Letter: Opposition to Plaza 2555 and Mega-Dorms

The following is a letter to the Social Services Commission from Eileen Samitz, dated February 26, 2018, in regard to Plaza 2555, and so-called mega-dorm apartments.

Dear Social Services Commissioners,

I am writing with concern regarding the proposal of yet another mega-dorm, Plaza 2555, which would have predominantly 4- and 5- bedroom apartments like Sterling Apts. and Lincoln40. I am including the data on the plethora of 4- and 5- bedroom apartments being proposed in the City which would be targeting students and would not help provide housing for typical families and local workers.

Percentages of 4- and 5- bedroom apartments per mega-dorm project:

Sterling Apts. has 108/ of 160 total apts.  = 68 % 4- and 5- bedroom apts. = 458 beds/540 total beds                                      (This project has been approved and is under construction on the former Families First site.)

Lincoln 40 has 92 /of 130 total apts. = 71% 4- and 5- bedroom apts. = 508 beds/708 total beds                                      (Proposed project due to go to City Council March 13th.)

Original Plaza 2555 proposal had 130 /of 200 total apts. = 65% 4- and 5- bedroom apts.

Newest Plaza 2555 proposal is for 135 /of 200 total apts. = 68% 4- and 5- bedroom apts. =  578 beds /689 total beds (Proposed project to go to Planning Commission March 14th.)

In addition, despite concerns brought up by some Social Services commissioners regarding the exceptionally high concentration of the 4- and 5- bedroom apartments relative to the entire Plaza 2555 project, the response from the developers was to add more 4- and 5-bedroom apartments going from 65% to 68% with its latest proposal. So, in the current proposal, 4- and 5- bedroom apartments would amount to 578 beds of the 689 beds. The affordable housing plan proposed is not offering nearly enough either for the entitlements being asked for by the Plaza 2555 developers.

The land parcel for Plaza 2555 is commercial parcel less than 500 feet from I-80 in South Davis and not far from the large Playfields Park baseball field which have very tall and very bright night lights. There would be considerable highway noise as well as crowd noise from the Playfields Park baseball park.

The Plaza 2555 developers will be requesting the City to be granted 1) a re-zoning of the commercial site to a Planned Development with incomplete details about the project; 2) as well as a General Plan amendment; 3) a South Davis Specific Plan amendment; and 4) an individualized affordable housing plan. The affordable housing proposal is for only 70 beds of the 689 beds and only 10 apartments units of the 200 apartment units. This project asks for far too much and offers not only too little regarding affordable housing, but it is also yet another mega-dorm shoe-horning in an enormous number of students, and not offering nearly enough rental housing needed for families and local workers.

I urge the Social Services Commission to raise concerns about Plaza 2555 proposal which is predominantly 4- and 5- bedroom apartments targeting UCD students, while offering little for non-students including families and local workers who are in great need of multi-family rental housing. Again, the location of the Plaza site has problems since it is so close to I-80 and so near Playfields Park. In addition, it makes no sense for Plaza 2555 to be targeting potentially 689 students to live south of I-80 needing to get back and forth to the UCD campus daily. This will just add to circulation impacts at Richards Blvd. corridor and the challenge of getting to and from the campus by bicycle which is an arduous trip and distance particularly in adverse weather.

Not only is Plaza 2555 yet another proposal for the over-building mega-dorms which are exclusionary by design, but the hope of freeing up existing occupied apartments cannot be expected. This is because UCD will continue to add more students to it campus student population annually, as it tries to resist building the 50% on-campus housing which is needed to effectively help improve the vacancy rate in Davis. On-campus student housing is the only effective way to achieve affordable student housing long-term, which is why six other UC’s have committed to providing at least 50% on-campus housing. This includes UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, UC Riverside, and UC Merced. However, UCD, the largest UC in the system with over 5,300 acres, continues to drag its heels on committing to the 50/100 plan requested of UCD by four resolutions and a community petition. The more mega-dorms built in the City– the less motivated UCD will be to build the needed on-campus housing, and further, and the cost of market rate student housing cannot be controlled in the City, but can only be control long-term on-campus.

In closing it is important that feedback be given to the City Council that the City to build mega-dorms only does nothing to help our families and local workers short-term or long-term and also de-motivates UCD to produce the needed on-campus student housing. I urge the Social Services Commission to raise these concerns now because the Plaza 2555 project is being fast-tracked through the City’s planning process.

Any multi-family housing approved now needs to be 1-, 2- and 3- bedroom apartments which is inclusionary by design and available to families, local workers, and students. It is imperative that this planning strategy is used now, since the City has limited land use parcels left for multi-family housing.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or to discuss further.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Eileen M. Samitz,

Former member, City of Davis Planning Commission, 2001 General Plan Update, and 2008 General Plan Update Housing Element Steering Committee

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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    1. Howard P

      I have a different take on it, Alan… to me, when I read something that uses “mega-dorm once or more in the first sentence, trying to read on is like that classic noise that came over the speakers when connecting to a dial-up connection… high-pitched, static-y, gobbledy gook…

      1. Alan Miller

        . . . or could be like the pathetic call of a lone cattle searching for its herd in the fog:

        “moooooooooooooooooooooogadormmmm . . . . . moooooooooooooooooooooogadormmmm . . . . . moooooooooooooooooooooogadormmmm . . . . . moooooooooooooooooooooogadormmmm . . . . . moooooooooooooooooooooogadormmmm . . . . .”

        1. Ron

          David appears to be attempting to drag Eileen back into commenting.  Constantly quoting her, and now digging up earlier letters.

          I don’t think it will work. I’m not sure that she’s even looking at this stuff.

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