As the community has engaged in a conversation on student housing, some have argued that UC Davis needs to take on more on-campus housing. I think most people agree with that sentiment. Some have pushed further, arguing that the city of Davis needs to reach an agreement with UC Davis, much as Santa Cruz and Berkeley have with their respective campuses, to mitigate the impact of continued enrollment growth.
That was a view of Dan Carson, who appears to have won a seat on the city council. But Mr. Carson views a potential lawsuit as a last resort.
I have been skeptical of such a measure, arguing that while I agree UC Davis should take on more of the housing for their enrollment growth, the benefits to this community of the university far outweigh the costs. Look no further than the large percentage of community members who are either employed by the university or employed because of the presence of the university, and received their degrees from the university.
This idea of university versus community flies in the face of this community’s commitment to higher education, among other things.
Well, it looks like the city of Santa Cruz has taken this confrontation a step further. Thanks to a Davis Enterprise columnist for spotting this.
In an article that appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on June 6: “Voters sent a clear message to UC officials eyeing sizeable enrollment growth to the Santa Cruz campus on Tuesday: Thanks, but no thanks.”
Writes the paper: “The smallest city in California to host a UC campus, the city by the beach and the city on the hill appear headed for the second showdown in as many decades over how many more students the city of 64,000 can absorb as it grapples with a housing crisis, congested roadways and concerns about water supply.”
Councilmember Chris Krohn, one of three city officials to propose the ballot measure, said that “he was satisfied and unsurprised by voters’ response, pointing to what he called the ‘rampant’ impacts enrollment growth would have on Santa Cruz’s bus services, traffic and housing costs. Inflated dorm rents, Krohn said, have driven up the cost of housing, displaced families and ‘left a kind of desperate free-for-all atmosphere around town.’”
Next step is apparently to engage the state legislature. Mr. Krohn said, “Working with our state representatives Sen. Monning and Assemblymember Stone and university officials is the only way we will be able to negotiate a positive outcome in our community in terms of stemming this out of control growth and stabilize our local housing market.”
A campus spokesperson said they were “disappointed” with city residents for supporting Measure U.
Bob Dunning points out: “Imagine that. The citizens of Santa Cruz think they can actually control the seemingly autonomous University of California. (See ‘Davis’ above). And they actually put their concerns to a vote of the people.”
This is the model that apparently people want to follow in Davis?
Wrote Eileen Samitz: “The host cities of Santa Cruz, San Diego and Berkeley are all fed up with the UCs being opportunistic and have gotten excellent legal settlements from challenging the UCs in these cities.”
Maybe she ought to re-think that in the wake of Santa Cruz’s decision to vote against additional enrollment growth (even though it is clearly only symbolic).
UC Davis growth has generated some pushback from our community, but nothing like this. Once again, UC Davis has felt the heat from the community on growth. But they have also responded, proposing increasing on-campus housing shares from 28 percent to 48 percent.
The current proposal is for 9050 new beds by 2027. The city has stepped up as well. Last week voters have most likely approved Measure J, which allows developers to construct 2200 beds at Nishi, right next to campus. As we reported earlier this week, along with the already-approved Sterling Apartments and Lincoln40, and with what is proposed at Davis Live student housing and Plaza 2555, Davis would be potentially building just under 4500 beds of its own.
That would come to about a two to one margin, which in my view seems relatively equitable for both the community and the campus in terms of a growth share.
There is some caveat – the Vanguard has learned that the Davis Live apartment complex is going to return to the Planning Commission rather than going forward to council, in light of the vote not to recommend the project. Also there may be some alterations in the proposal at Plaza 2555.
Some like Eileen Samitz continue to argue for more housing on campus. In a recent missive, she continues to push for “the need for UCD to provide on-campus housing for at least 50% its total student population and 100% of its new incoming students.”
Of course we are talking about 10,000 new beds as opposed to the proposed 9050 new beds.
My increasing belief is that we should focus on making sure that UC Davis builds all the beds it commits to rather than trying to squeeze 1000 more beds out of them in this proposal. Right now they have committed to 5200 beds by 2020, which I would assume is really going to be 2021 or even 2022.
The concern is that there is really no plan in place beyond that. That means somewhere down the line they have to draw up plans for 3800 more beds. When talking with Matt Dulcich from the university last week, he assured me that is in the works, but, forgive me, I’m skeptical.
After all, it wasn’t that long ago that UC Davis agreed to vastly increase their housing in an MOU with the city only to see those housing units never materialize.
Hopefully the vote by Santa Cruz is a wake up call on both sides of A Street. For the citizens of Davis, it shows that even lawsuits and settlement agreements with the university will not be sufficient to mitigate the impacts of enrollment growth. Instead, we need to engage and work together. For the university, it should be a reminder that having good town-gown relations is not just good PR, it is good policy that will enable a smoother operation for the university.
—David M. Greenwald reporting