The title of the letter definitely caught my attention: “We don’t want off-campus dormitories.” Was there a student group that was opposed to one of the apartment projects? I looked at the author. Nope. Longtime resident Claudia Krich was the author.
There are a lot of factual problems with her letter that need to be sorted out.
She writes: “Now that the precedent has been set by Davis City Council of building a one-bathroom-per-bedroom off-campus student dormitory, that project is, as predicted, used to justify building more off-campus dormitories.
“Obviously, dormitories should be on campus. Off-campus housing should be apartments, not dormitories. It seems to be a matter of who blinks first, the city or the university, and the city keeps blinking.”
She continues, “Only students live in dormitories, even when developers euphemistically call them apartments. ‘Student housing’ is dormitories. Families don’t live in $3,750-per-month five-bedroom, five-bathroom units, period. Apartments are a completely different consideration. Anyone can live in apartments.”
There are a lot of subjective points here. Student housing is not a synonym for dormitories. In fact, even on campus they distinguish between student dormitories which do not have kitchens or independent eating facilities and student apartments which do.
Second, why should student housing not be located off campus? Nishi is right next to campus. Students will be able to literally walk or bike through the underpass and be on campus without clogging roadways or having to drive. Lincoln40 is across the street.
In addition, Nishi is going to be two- and three-bedroom apartments. They are rented by the unit. In other words, there is nothing to stop a family from moving in, I suppose, if they want to live next to a bunch of students.
“Families don’t live in $3,750-per-month five-bedroom, five-bathroom units, period.”
She is probably correct. But here’s the problem – a family is not likely to live in a $2300 to $2800 market rate three-bedroom apartment either. Davis is not really affordable to families – and not solving the student housing crisis is not going to fix that problem.
Ms. Krich continues: “The council expresses concern about low-income students having to live in other towns… Low-income students will not be living at Sterling or the other dormitories because the rents per bed are from $750 to $1,300, and almost certainly higher, since Sterling will immediately sell the finished dormitory to another company that is free to raise those numbers that were presented to the Planning Department and to the council to sell the project.”
The good news is that low income students are starting to have some options. The affordable housing plan at Lincoln40 will allow for rents around $670 to $800. It is slightly better at Nishi with rents between $404 and $670.
The market rate units at Nishi are projected at roughly $800 per bed.
Ms. Krich continues: “Low-income students do not need or want to pay for private bathrooms. It’s cheaper to double up in a house off-campus. And how indeed does Davis justify letting any developer build one bathroom (for 18- to 21-year-olds) per bedroom in drought-prone California when the rest of us make every effort to conserve water?”
There are all sorts of problems with this comment. First of all, there are not necessarily private bathrooms, especially in shared rooms. Second, it is not clear that bathrooms are increasing the cost of infrastructure. Third, it has been thoroughly debunked that the inclusion of more bathrooms increases water use.
She concludes: “Let’s consider Nishi. Many of us will vote for apartments, will vote for retail, will vote for housing, but will not vote for off-campus, unregulated, expensive dormitories.”
It is unclear if Nishi is the target of her post, but it is the only project on the ballot and Nishi does not include many of the things Ms. Krich is complaining about. The community needs to understand how bad things are for students right now and, by building some student housing in town, we can alleviate the current housing crisis.
—David M. Greenwald reporting