Since a May 2016 announcement, UC Davis has not budged off the promise of providing 6200 new beds, housing 40 percent of all students on campus. When pushed by the community last year, UC Davis said they would look into the possibility of going above the promised number, but unless they included a new number in the EIR it was hard to see how they would go much above the 6200 figure.
However, on Tuesday, Chancellor Gary May announced plans to go with 8500 new beds. By our calculation that does not get the campus to the 10,000 new bed mark – which would have taken them to 50 percent as requested by the Vanguard and the Davis City Council – but it does get them to about 45.9 percent, or a compromise figure that splits the difference.
“We are raising our goal for new on-campus student housing in the Long Range Development Plan from 6,200 to 8,500 beds,” said Chancellor Gary May. “We recognize the importance of affordable housing and are striving to make new options as affordable as possible through increased density, efficient design and a variety of unit types.”
He noted, “In my first months as chancellor, I have identified housing and transportation as key challenges for UC Davis. I am particularly concerned with making sure our students have access to housing so they can focus on their studies.”
Chancellor May writes, “This housing plan significantly exceeds our planned enrollment growth and could provide many options for future students to live on campus with close access to our academic resources.
“I want to be very clear that many factors, not all of which can be anticipated, avoided or mitigated, could affect housing developments — from economic factors to policies at the state and federal levels. Much can happen, and many challenges remain, as we strive to implement these initial projects and anticipate future projects through 2030,” the chancellor warned.
The chancellor announced the expectation that the EIR for the LRDP (Long Range Development Plan) will be available for public comment in March and will go to the UC Regents for approval in July.
“Through implementation of the LRDP, we will continue to explore options for even greater density and building heights,” he said.
The chancellor also spoke to the issue of Nishi. He writes, “I am excited about the potential development of housing on the Nishi site adjacent to campus. We are working with city staff to understand the details of the revised proposal.”
Importantly, he committed to working with the developers on an agreement for direct access to the campus.
The chancellor also said that he was encouraged by the City Council’s recent approval of housing developments in Davis. Said Gary May, “While we are planning the most ambitious student housing construction campaign in campus history, housing market changes cannot be resolved by UC Davis alone.”
He said, “Providing a greater abundance and diversity of housing should help ease some pressure on the Davis housing market.”
The city of Davis has projected a goal of having up to a five percent vacancy rate, which they consider far more healthy for students and renters than the current 0.2 percent vacancy.
So right now – before additional campus growth – the city has a 0.2 percent vacancy rate which means, at any given time, of the 9969 units that were surveyed in the report (accounting for 83 percent of all multifamily housing stock) there are less than 30 units available to rent.
With the university now pledging 8500 beds and another 5000 to 6000 beds in the pipeline in the city, the city and campus could be looking at between 13,000 and 14,000 new beds on the market in a relatively short period of time – with the approved development of Sterling Apartments, Lincoln40 (which is going to the planning commission this evening), Plaza 2555, and the proposed Nishi project which could go to the council by February 6.
The chancellor added, “We want to continue to work cooperatively with the Davis community, City Council and other local communities to encourage smart and responsible development drawing on the careful and innovative history of planning in the city of Davis.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting