Council Candidates Discuss Housing at Yolo County Realtors Forum – Part 3 – UC Davis Housing

Most of the candidates showed up to a morning candidate’s forum at the Odd Fellows Hall put on by the Yolo County Association of Realtors.  Ezra Beeman, however, was unable to make it, and Colin Walsh sat in for the second time for him.  Larry Guenther also could not make it.

The third question was about working with UC Davis to promote student housing

Colin Walsh for Ezra Beeman – This is a very serious issue for the city, the university under the 2020 plan has brought in 5000 more students without providing additional housing for them and it has caused a real crunch in the housing market.  Relationships seem at a real low end despite our new chancellor and the two by two meetings.  Just last week, there was a long range development plan meeting where the university rolled out its new plans where they’ve actually significantly increased its housing on campus – they say that they’re bringing housing to 48 percent of their students.  By comparison it’s at about 30 percent right now.  Not a single member of city council attended the meeting and Ezra was the only candidate who attended the meeting.  Ezra really supports trying to collaborate with the university, trying to find ways to work together trying to find ways to make sure that they hit that 48 percent mark.  The city council, ASUCD, the county board of supervisors, all asked for 50 percent.  So Ezra would like it to be even a little more – it’s a serious problem that impacts the students that have been brought here without necessary housing, has had a significant impact on the community and a real impact on people’s lives.  Ezra would be willing to start with communication but go harder if needed.

Gloria Partida – I also saw the numbers of students that are going to be coming in.  I’m glad that the university has decided to up the percent of housing that they’re building.  Collaboration is really important with the university.  And communication is important with the university.  But it’s also important with our citizens.  Awhile back, the university was ready to build housing for students and staff on their property and there was a large and very vocal group of Davis citizens that stopped that because they didn’t want those units placed on ag land.  We have to think very hard about what is it that we want.  How do we communicate that to our citizens – it is about marketing, it is about getting people all on the same side and getting them to understand that if they don’t want students in the city, then we need to do some collaboration and we may have to give up some of the things that we think are important.  Is it more important.  Is it more important to preserve ag land or is it more important to have housing for people?

Mark West – Davis is the host city for a major university.  It is our responsibility to provide housing for the students and staff and faculty at that university.  If you look back from the 1940s on, the rate of growth at the university has been fairly stable.  It’s been a very constant growth, all the way through to today.  The population of Davis also grew at about that same rate all the way through to 2000, when we decided to be a no growth city.  The entire thing that we have today has been that the relationship between the city and the university has been poisoned by those who want to block development and growth in Davis and prevent people from living in town.  We ruined the relationship not the university, it’s our job to recreate it.  We need to recreate it by going back to being a good neighbor with the university, providing housing for their students, faculty, and staff.

Dan Carson – This is an issue that I’ve worked on personally for 15 years.  It’s an issue I’ve spoken about to voters every day since I announced I’m running for this office in November.  We need to create an effective two-way working relationship between the city of Davis and the UC Davis campus if we’re going to solve this problem – particularly the housing problem.  The campus, a couple of Fridays ago, released a new campus plan that results in a 24 percent increase in the campus population over 13 years – that will exacerbate some of the traffic and parking and housing problems that we have.  We can follow the model of Berkeley and Santa Cruz, that I’ve educated my commission and the city council about.  They’ve created great two-way working relationships where folks on both sides work together.  At the city of Berkeley, for example, they get about a $2 million annual revenue stream from the UC Berkeley campus, to help mitigate the impacts of growth.  I think we can insist upon and work for – in a collaborative way – similar kinds of agreements with this campus.  I’m cautiously optimistic that the new chancellor will be open to a new and better approach to this.  I have worked very hard myself for projects like Nishi, I tabled at the Farmer’s Market, I walked precincts, I wrote six or seven op-eds, I handled the debates, I am willing to work very hard to do our part, the campus needs to do its part as well.

Linda Deos – This really is the pickle – we are here in Davis because we have this university.  The university needs us, we need them and we need to work together to find solutions to the housing issues, the transportation issues, the infrastructure issues.  I’m going to come at it from kind of a different perspective, many of you have come to Davis or live near Davis because you went to UC Davis or worked at UC Davis or retired at UC Davis.   I came here for a very different reason – I fell in love with a woman who lived here.  That’s how I got here to Davis.  What that means is I have a certain independence when it comes to negotiating with UC Davis.  Talking with them, saying here’s some of the things that we need here, and there’s not an already pre-established relationship between me and that entity.  I’ve learned in my legal practice being a mediator and a litigator that it’s good to have a detachment when you have an entity such as UC Davis.  Going forward, there are other agreements that cities have made with their various UCs and state campus, unfortunately, in order to reach those agreements it took lawsuits to make that happen – I sure don’t want to go down that road here to say oh my gosh, we want to work together – I don’t want to go the lawsuit route, but I’m willing to go there if we must.

Eric Gudz – First off, I wanted to commend our current council for doing work to push that number closer to 50 percent.  Rochelle and Robb don’t get the credit that they deserve.  They actually do really good work and they preserve a very good relationship with the university despite all the tension and strain.  Two, what we have at the university – if you think about all the policy changes at the university in the last couple of years – think about Pepper Spray, think about the tuition hike, you think about the freezes, you think about firing Katehi – what do all of those things have in common?  It required the coordination and the coalescence of the student constituency.  The constituency of folks on campus.  So anything we have to do – if we want change on the campus environment, if we want to present our goals and our vision for what we want as a city, in that relationship with the campus, one we have to understand the campus constituency.  As someone who has been on that campus for the past several years and someone who has support from at least 40 student organizations, the entirety of the graduate student assembly and the ASUCD – pretty much the organizing features within the campus, I’m very well connected with that space and I understand how we can push demands to the senior administration within that space.  I can say right now, they’ve already been working on the LRDP for months.

Mary Jo Bryan – I think the big word is relationships.  I think that we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the housing relationship but we’ve hardly talked about the other part of the relationship with UC Davis.  I learned that when our new chancellor was appointed that a group from Sacramento went to Georgia to meet him.  Talked about all the opportunities to work together.  When we met with him the first time, we talked about housing and all of our problems.  I think that we need to reestablish that relationship with them on a win-win kind of situation.  David Greenwald asked the question, about what I learned about after my primary goal of housing, that was the need for this relationship building with the university.  It’s extremely important.  They have so much to give us.  We need to go into that relationship working together to find those kinds of things that we can work together on and build that relationship.  I’ve learned so much from the panelists here in regards to what went wrong, I’ve heard this in regards to other people too.  It’s a two-way street and we have to deal with it.  The university is a difficult organization to deal with on many different levels.  But let’s start with a positive relationship and go forward.

Luis Rios – I grew up in Yolo County, this is my home.  Went to UC Davis for undergraduate studies.  I met Gary May and his administration, by the way.  It’s all about relationships, relationships, relationships.  Otherwise we’re going to keep having the same track history.  You know when Gary May arrived at the Sacramento airport, who was there to welcome him?  Darrell Steinberg, and now they’re doing Aggie Square in Sacramento.  Nobody from the city of Davis was there.  That’s a problem.  It’s all about relationships, relationships.  If you don’t have that, it’s going to be another bumpy road, whoever gets elected will have a challenging job.  We’ve got to think about the future, for the whole Davis community.  UC Davis and the city of Davis need to build good relationships, and I can do that.  I’m a state contractor.  The UC Regents is like a state agency.  My department has contracts.  I manage more than $6 million worth of contracts.  I get ethics training, accountability, I work with legal counsel, but I know programs.  I negotiate million dollar contracts all the time at the state level.  I’m a fiduciary officer, I’m a steward for the state of California.  It’s not just about Gary May, it’s about who gets elected, who gets appointed at the UC Regent level.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Jim Hoch

    This is the part I do not understand. We are paying to people to ostensibly represent our interests in Sacramento. Their names are Dodd and Curry though I will forgive if you don’t remember since they are never seen in these parts.

    Why is it they are never mentioned in connection with our relation to UCD? Is it not their job to help with this relationship? Curry seems to ignore anything East of the 505 while Dodd is too distracted by his “garage door activism” to pay attention to his constituents in Davis.

    Why not offer them a free boba or Philz pour-over to participate?

    1. David Greenwald

      That’s a reasonable point and one idea could be to work with our Sacramento representatives. I think in general, most of the candidates prefer to establish a direct relationship rather than going over their heads or filing lawsuits.

      1. Ron

        Probably should ask the folks in Santa Cruz and Berkeley how that worked out. I would assume that there were such attempts, before resorting to legal options.

        Might also want to look into the local (citizen-based) outreach efforts (which has led to a significant improvement already – despite the naysayers), and before assuming that it hasn’t been done.

      2. Jim Hoch

        “most of the candidates prefer to establish a direct relationship rather than going over their heads” that seems to be accurate and maybe the reason nothing changes. One would have to be pretty naive to think a “relationship” will trump the interests of the chancellor. The current chancellor seems to be focused on expanding the ranks of senior administrators because the greatness of a chancellor can be measured by the size of his staff.  Also he would like to build some giant edifice to his greatness. This is very usual. To think that a friendly relationship with a Davis city council member will change those interests is juvenile. 

        The legislature is the “economic buyer” here and is in a position to focus the interest of the chancellor.  Therefore participation by our AWOL state representatives is key.

        1. David Greenwald

          What are you saying hasn’t changed? Because right now UC Davis has gone from 28 percent to a proposed 48 percent of on-campus housing over the next ten years. That’s a rather huge change.

  2. Jeff M

    California’s astronomical housing costs are a result of an over-supply of government mandates, zoning restrictions, and permitting fees. The state Legislative Analyst Office estimates that it costs between $50,000 to $75,000 more to build a home in California than in the rest of the country. Building a low-income housing unit costs about $332,000.

    Just recently California passed laws that requires all new housing housing to have solar panels.  The average cost increase per home is $8 – $12k.

    But hey, that is only like another $40 per month on the mortgage.

    That is always the argument for increased requirements… it is only a little bit.  But it is death by thousands of cuts.

    California is the dumbest-ass state in the union when it comes to economic policy.  If not for the great weather California would certainly be Mexico.

    Davis is just a reflection of all that stupidity.

    1. David Greenwald

      The LAO estimates that building costs are about 20% higher.  So it’s a factor, but not the only factor in higher home costs.  It looks like they determined the bigger factor is the higher costs of land and growth control policies.

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