Sunday Commentary: If You Are Looking for Densification, U-Mall Might Be the Model

As we go forward with the discussions around downtown planning, the community ought to turn its attention to the University Mall redevelopment, because it illustrates a possible future direction for the core.

While University Mall sits on a 8.25 acre parcel with over 100,000 square feet of retail, the mostly single-story commercial development (there is a very limited second floor with offices), has already seemed like an under-utilized parcel.

That could all change with the proposed redevelopment that would see the addition of 264 multi-family units and about 893 beds, taking the project to seven stories – 80 feet in height with three stories of parking, retail and restaurants on the bottom and four levels of residential.

This type of redevelopment project naturally will cost a tremendous amount of money and will take deep pocketed and generally out-of-the-area developers to pull it off.  But it demonstrates there is a private sector perception that this kind of vertical mixed use is cost effective, even in Davis.

And if it can be pulled off at U-Mall outside of the core area, there is no reason that we cannot see a similar plan inside the core.

When the Vanguard met with the new owners of the Brinley Building, one of the things they talked about was that, within ten years, they would redevelop their building to go perhaps to four stories with residential over retail and restaurants.

As we move forward in the downtown plan, there is increasing talk about densification.  Indeed, the July discussions showed a lot of push for greater height and more density.

As one person, cited in the summary report, noted, “We must go up in downtown Davis.  I might say four stories, but there could be a case for higher…  I would also like to see higher density housing/business combinations and flex space where use of the building can vary over time based on community needs and demand.”

A common refrain was: “Multi-stories in the heart of downtown that provides ground-level retail, professional spaces and residential.  A mix of 3-6 stories will create diversity and unique architecture.”

But there was by no means a consensus here.  Others pushed back and said, “No building over three stories downtown.  We do not want canyons.  We are not New York.”

Never mind that the three to six stories is nowhere even approximating New York and, built correctly with setbacks, you could retain the open feel of the present downtown while increasing density and creating a much more efficient use of land.

The city had a fiscal analysis done that showed “redevelopment  only  made  financial  sense  when  it  was  greater  than  or  equal  to  4  stories  tall.  It  is  foolish  to  set  a  zoning  standard  below  that  limit  if  the  desire  is  to  see  the  downtown  evolve  with  the  changing  environment.”

In our view then, what we are seeing with the University Mall redevelopment could be the future of Davis.  We are looking at a community that is no longer likely to grow much horizontally, and the next step will likely be vertically.

Davis Live housing is basically across the street from University Mall.  We have seen some nearby residents complain that the building, at seven stories, would be too high and too dense.  Others have argued that right across the street from the university is an appropriate place for height and density.

That will be an interesting discussion to follow.

By creating a mixed-use community at University Mall, we retain – and actually slightly expand – the commercial element, adding about 30,000 more square feet of space to the existing footprint on the ground level, and we add residential.

Right now we are looking at a mix of multi-family rental housing.  The developers estimate about 893 beds.

More student housing?  Probably.

In their description they write: “Due to the immediate proximity to the University of Davis campus, the residential is primarily focused on student use, but will also welcome and include many options for non-students as well.”

We are looking at one-, two-, four- and five-bedroom units.  Right now the rental housing market is dominated by student housing needs, and to pretend like any substantial multifamily housing is not going to have a large portion of students is, frankly, folly.  Other than creating a luxury apartment development with strict credit check requirements, there is very little way to limit student housing.

Wesley Sagewalker earlier this week made the point, “Davis has not–even on paper–solved or ended the housing crisis. If we acknowledge that the rate of rental increases outpacing inflation by a factor of 2-4x per annum for the last 20 years has created a rental housing market that is unaffordable to many students (as this blog has for at least the past year), then merely creating enough housing to theoretically accommodate the planned increase in enrollment (plus a little extra) is nowhere near sufficient to start passing out the congratulations.”

The bottom line – there is still a need for student housing but if this development maintains flexibility in terms of structure, it could serve a multitude of uses.  But the bottom line remains that, in this market and with this location, this is a project that will attract students.

A final point that could be looked at is that right now this project is looking at 693 parking spaces.  That is 429 remaining for retail use and 264 for residential use.

Once again, given the location, perhaps they could reduce at least the number of residential spaces from 30 percent to 15 percent.  Given that it is mixed use, and given that it is located across the street from the university – in theory, a student living at U-Mall would be in walking distance to everything they need, from classes to entertainment (The Graduate) to food (restaurants) to coffee (Starbucks) to clothing (Forever 21 – okay a niche clientele) to pharmaceuticals (Rite Aid) to groceries (Trader Joe’s).

That is as self-contained a segment of the city as there is.  Why would someone need to drive at all, living at University Mall?

I will be watching the discussion of this project, as it will be very telling about the possibilities of the future of Davis.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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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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70 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: If You Are Looking for Densification, U-Mall Might Be the Model”

  1. Tia Will

    I see the University Mall as an ideal location to build up. Not only does it have all the amenities listed in the article, but is also within easy biking and walking distance from downtown. Before you demur that it is not within walking distance, I still walk that distance regularly although not necessarily to that location.

  2. Ron

    Rather than re-engaging and repeating all of the comments from yesterday’s similar article (including David’s refusal to address whether or not he supports the Affordable housing exemption for mixed-use/megadorm developments, such as this one) – here’s a link to that article/comments:

     
    https://www.davisvanguard.org/2018/08/developer-proposes-to-redevelop-the-university-mall-into-mixed-use/
     

    As noted in the comments from that other article, adding residential will likely create complications for existing businesses, on the site. It will also further degrade the adjacent, already-impacted intersections.

    Also left unanswered is why UCD would agree to build any more student housing on campus, if the city keeps encouraging/approving megadorms in the city.

     

     

      1. Ron

        Don:  You answered the question, but David did not.

        You acknowledged that you do support the exemption, which would mean that NO Affordable housing would be built as a result of this development proposal, if it’s approved.

    1. Howard P

      A lack of a response to a spurious ‘demand’ for a response from someone, does not constitute a “refusal to answer”… nor, an affirmation of the questioner’s point… to think it does, is to assert a right of power over another… somewhat narcissistic?  Ron, who granted you the power of subpoena?  (irony intended)

      1. Ron

        Howard:  There’s nothing “spurious” about the question.  It’s directly related to proposals, such as this one.

        I haven’t asked you, because you’re not putting forth these advocacy articles. However, your constant comments defending David and the Vanguard, while simultaneously attacking me are certainly “spurious”, and ultimately – of no value.

        1. Howard P

          If David was running for an office, your question would be appropriate here… as would you contacting him at info@davisvanguard.org

          David is pretty responsive to direct contact… I commend him highly on this, even though we often have divergent views…

        2. Ron

          Howard:  Again, you have nothing to say (and yet choose to make a comment).

          Again, you’re not the one writing development advocacy articles (and complaining about the lack of affordability of housing), on a daily basis.  You’re simply part of David’s choir, on this.

          Since you’re repeatedly trying to run interference (and sidetrack the issue) for David, I’ll just repeat the question:

          David:  Do you support the Affordable housing exemption for vertical mixed-use developments?

           

      2. Alan Miller

        A lack of a response to a spurious ‘demand’ for a response from someone, does not constitute a “refusal to answer”… nor, an affirmation of the questioner’s point… to think it does, is to assert a right of power over another… somewhat narcissistic?

        Agree HP!  Whole-heartedly!

  3. Tia Will

    Ron

    I suspect that David and I have different views on this issue. Not having an affordable housing component would weaken but not necessarily preclude my support for the project. If definitely precluded my support for Trackside as I did not see a community need for luxury apartments while there was and remains a need for affordable housing.

    I would say that while it is fine to request a response from a single participant, it is unreasonable to expect that other posters will not have opinions they wish to share, whether in defense of or opposition to the poster you are querying.

    1. Ron

      Tia:  “I would say that while it is fine to request a response from a single participant, it is unreasonable to expect that other posters will not have opinions they wish to share, whether in defense of or opposition to the poster you are querying.”

      David is more than a “single participant”.  He is the author of these advocacy articles, which often focus on availability of affordable housing.

      The implication regarding the rest of your statement is that I’m attempting to prevent others from sharing their opinions.  If you look at the ongoing history of comments (some of which appear to be “purposefully made”, and then deleted before finalization – apparently including one today), you might see more clearly that some commenters are simply trying to defend particular views (without expressly stating it), and do so by trying to deflect/attack. Again, this is a pattern, and not something that is necessarily highly recognizable from comments made today (only).

      Another commenter recently made this comment (in an unrelated article), which I found to be particularly pertinent regarding what often occurs on the Vanguard:

      Ross:  “So, I guess the “sane,” “critical thinking” response to a question or comment is to ignore the topic at hand completely and smugly launch veiled ad hominum attacks at the people expressing those opinions without actually divulging yours?  Way to make sure you stay superior, fellas.

       

      any actual opinions about the article to express?

      https://www.davisvanguard.org/2018/08/attacks-press-pose-danger-journalists-democracy/#comment-3905
       

        1. Ron

          It’s not “bait”, when one constantly writes articles regarding the lack of affordable housing (but then won’t even acknowledge that he supports the Affordable housing waiver, for vertical mixed-use). Even worse was essentially/repeatedly “pretending” that he was answering the question, without actually doing so. With support from some of his sidekicks, on here. Political nonsense at its finest.

          All while acknowledging (on this site) that he lives in Affordable housing, and sees a need for more of it. Without specifying how it can be built or who would pay for it, especially in the absence of RDA money.

          If you can make sense out of any of that, please do so. But, it’s certainly a reasonable question to ask of this blogger.

          1. Don Shor

            Even worse was essentially/repeatedly “pretending” that he was answering the question, without actually doing so. With support from some of his sidekicks, on here. Political nonsense at its finest.

            David said

            “Until we find a replacement for that funding stream, we are forced to coddle together approaches – none of which will happen if we do not build more housing.
            The third point is that if you believe that vertical mixed use in a town that cannot go horizontal easily is necessary, then you have to look at ways to facilitate it.”

            What part of that answer are you having trouble understanding? Other than that he probably meant ‘cobble together’ instead of ‘coddle together’?
            Do you want me to highlight “you have to look at ways to facilitate it”?

        2. Ron

          Great comment, Howard.  You’re much too clever for me!

          And – as an added bonus, it (once again) helps deflect the question for David. You’re a good solider, for him.

        3. Alan Miller

          I think we’re going to have to add “demanding someone answer a question” obsessive behavior to the state stalking laws to get Ron to STOP.

        4. Ron

          Don:  “Do you want me to highlight “you have to look at ways to facilitate it”?

          Not unless you think it answers the corresponding question, for David:

          Do you support the Affordable housing exemption for vertical mixed-use developments?

          Not sure why there are so many “soldiers” weighing in on behalf of David (with some starting to attack me now, as well).  (Also in reference to Alan’s comment, above. Not to mention Howard’s repetitive attacks.)

          To your (Don’s) credit, you answered the question (for yourself).  You support the Affordable housing waiver, even though it means that no Affordable housing will be built, for mixed-use developments.  (Including any proposed peripheral developments.)

          Here’s an idea: How about we let David respond? Or, as an alternative, we just acknowledge that he isn’t going to respond? (And call off the attacks from his soldiers, to whom I’m actually responding to at this point?)

          1. Don Shor

            Not unless you think it answers the corresponding question, for David:

            Do you support the Affordable housing exemption for vertical mixed-use developments?

            It does. I wouldn’t have posted it if I didn’t think so.

        5. Ron

          Don:  David’s response simply does not answer the question.  If you think it does, then why don’t you go ahead and answer it for him:

          Do you (Don, speaking on behalf of David) support the Affordable housing exemption for vertical mixed-use developments?

          Only on the Vanguard, would this type of communication occur. (Where a question from the “head blogger/author” isn’t answered, and soldiers try to defend whatever evasive answer was provided.)

          These exchanges are starting to remind me of a news conference, on behalf of Trump.

  4. Todd Edelman

    Here we go again: We have a housing crisis/”housing crisis” so it is simply perverted to allow residential parking for cars instead of residential beds for people in the same footprint! This needs to be illegal until we have a healthy vacancy rate with more equity and rights for tenants.

    1) Replace plan for one level of residential parking with a full level of residential beds.

    2) Put carshare, ADA-related, and exempt spaces on the next level down.  (“Exempt” means that persons who need vehicles related to work will be allowed to park here – this can be e.g. one-person contractor businesses or first responders/emergency room doctors.)

    2a) Unless it’s a dedicated structure and path, cyclists are not interested in riding bikes inside parking structures. All bike parking here should be path-separated from motor vehicles from the path/street to the parking, and should be clustered around multiple elevators from the ground level to the residential floors, dedicated for residential users.

    3) At the very least require that the office and retail parking levels be designed for latter conversion to residential, office and/or retail use. (This is a newly-growing strategy and includes features such as level floors, higher ceilings and other features that will make adaptation possible.) Better would be to add yet another level of residential people beds.

    4) There should be no surface parking at all. It is an insulting waste of space.

    5) No fare-free parking for anyone. No validation.

    6) There has to be low-income housing here. For students or anyone. Big A or small a affordable. Full stop. Anything else is… a perversion.

    1. Ron

      4) There should be no surface parking at all. It is an insulting waste of space.

      The elimination of surface parking could negatively impact existing businesses.  Some folks don’t like the hassle of trying finding spots inside the maze of a parking structure.

      Todd:  “5) No fare-free parking for anyone. No validation.”

      I wonder what the existing businesses would think about that.  Also wondering how they would prevent residents (and visitors to those residences) from parking in spots intended for customers, as well as who would pay to issue and collect citations for violating whatever controls might be put in place. And, how customers (e.g., those not living at the site) would view having to deal with new controls and possible fines.

      On a related note, I’m wondering how existing businesses would feel about possibly paying increased rent, if the property is redeveloped as proposed.

      1. Ron

        Oh – and how customers of existing businesses would view the increased congestion, at the already-impacted adjacent intersections.  Might that also influence decisions to shop elsewhere?

        Davis seems to be on a determined path to make it even more difficult for customers to visit/shop at businesses. An odd approach, given the city’s goals regarding economic activity. Perhaps even more odd, given that student housing (on-campus) is a primary issue in the upcoming mediation (and possible litigation) between UCD and the city.

        1. Ron

          Howard: Rather than putting forth another half-insult, perhaps you could explain what you’re referring to, as well as your reasoning. Perhaps you could view this as an encouragement to share your actual opinion, and the reason for it.

      2. Todd Edelman

        I love parking a car…. and I love parking my bicycle in front of my destination, but also support a centralized and likely underground bicycle parking structure which is common in many larger urban centers in the Netherlands, because surface space should be for people, first and foremost. It’s more important than cars and sometimes bikes, too. This is also being discussed for our Downtown.

        There’s nothing in principle wrong with surface parking, but it’s not appropriate for this location in town, in a town with a serious housing problem and few opportunities to seriously densify large properties.

        Keeping in mind that any parking structure should be built for eventual transformation – and also first of all that it can cost upwards of $35,000 for one space – there are benefits to parking in-structure as it will keep a car out of the sun and cool in our warming climate. Also it should be entirely possible to equip this center with shopping carts that follow customers to their cars and automatically return to their storage area.

        Parking is nice, but housing is nicer.

      3. Howard P

        Wonder away, McDuff…

        You enjoy throwing out suppositions… “what if’s”… rest assured the property owners are doing due diligence, so as not to build an edifice, unoccupied by businesses…

        I wonder how folk about paying increased taxes, if the city allows no development/re-development of property, adds no new population [irony intended]…

        At first glance, I support the project…

        1. Ron

          Howard:  “You enjoy throwing out suppositions… “what if’s”… rest assured the property owners are doing due diligence, so as not to build an edifice, unoccupied by businesses…”

          I assume that your comment is directed at me.

          Perhaps you could explain why the property owners are necessarily concerned about existing businesses.  Might they receive a lot more money, from the residences (with the business space as essentially a “necessary evil”)?

          Perhaps you read the article on the “other” blog, which noted that some retail spaces are remaining empty, in redeveloped buildings in San Francisco. I haven’t been in downtown Davis lately, but isn’t there an entire block which has been purchased by outside investors and had their rents raised, and is now having trouble attracting businesses?

          It’s already been noted that students generally don’t spend a lot of money supporting local businesses, compared to other cohorts. And, if our economy is dependent upon an ever-increasing population of any particular cohort (as you imply in the remainder of your comment), we’ve got more trouble than it seems.

          In any case, this proposal seems at best a “zero-sum” game, regarding business activity.

          1. Don Shor

            In any case, this proposal seems at best a “zero-sum” game, regarding business activity.

            Actually, looks like it adds more retail square footage overall, primarily I guess by moving the parking indoors. So overall it would increase the city’s sales tax revenues, as well as bumping up the assessed valuation of the properties. I doubt they’d have any difficulty finding tenants for the new spaces, though I can guess they’d be student-focused businesses.

        2. Ron

          Don: Good point, although a comparison of the revenue from student-oriented businesses may not be directly comparable to businesses which appeal to a broader population.

          If these students were housed on campus, perhaps there’d be even more room for commercial space at this mall, but without the resulting challenges of attempting to integrate another 900 or so student-oriented beds (including units which are 4-5 bedrooms, and up to 1,800 square feet).

          There’s also the issue of providing needed services to existing residents, in a manner which isn’t overly-difficult (in terms of parking, traffic, etc.).  I’m right on the verge of abandoning my trips to that mall, already.  The parking at Trader Joe’s/World Market (and the already-impacted adjacent intersections) already sucks.  How would adding another 900 student-oriented beds make that situation any better?

          And, again, zero Affordable housing would be built as a result of this proposal. And, you support that policy.

        3. Ron

          Also, several fiscal analyses (e.g., regarding Sterling and Nishi) have shown that student housing development proposals are long-term fiscal losers, for the city.

          As existing commercial space in the city continues to become converted/compromised, the Vanguard will likely intensify its call for peripheral expansion (which ironically would also preclude Affordable housing, for mixed-use peripheral proposals).

          Evidence shows that developers primarily want to build housing, not commercial developments. And, developers are more than ready to fulfill the need for student housing that UCD doesn’t want to address, regardless of the fiscal and other impacts on the city of these student/megadorm proposals.

          Some folks might be “relieved” that such developments are not being proposed right next to their homes. But, few seem to be concerned about the overall impact on the city, and its fiscal health.

          These proposals demonstrate what will continue to occur, unless the city grows a backbone in its relationship with UCD.

           

        4. Howard P

          Ron… I reiterate, as you do (isn’t cut and paste wonderful), what I said before…

          You enjoy throwing out suppositions… “what if’s”… rest assured the property owners are doing due diligence, so as not to build (or acquire) an edifice, unoccupied by businesses…

          QED…

        5. Ron

          Howard:  Again, there are “redeveloped” properties in San Francisco, in which the first floor retail spaces are remaining unoccupied.

          The $$$ for developers is primarily contained in the floors above that retail space.
          The same thing is likely true, regarding the University Mall proposal. Note that they aren’t simply proposing an expansion of commercial space. This is yet another megadorm proposal.

          And again, isn’t there an entire block in Davis which was purchased by outside interests, in which they raised the rent causing existing commercial tenants to vacate (and not be replaced)?  Perhaps those owners are simply waiting for an opportunity to add residential, as well.

          If you’re going to “cut and paste”, I can do the same. But, suggest you actually respond to the points made, before doing so again.

    2. Mark West

      There is ample evidence that the current parking minimums enshrined in our zoning ordinance were created using an arbitrary standard that results in excess parking on site, increased costs of development, and poor utilization of our available land. Unfortunately, Todd’s limited parking advocacy is also based on an arbitrary standard (his) and will result in a different set of deleterious consequences. Fortunately, there is a body of research and experience that we can draw upon to make a more reasoned assessment of the need for parking at this site, and the City already has a consultant engaged on the issue as part of the downtown plan. Instead of replacing one arbitrary standard with another, what we should do is get a determination of the actual parking need based on the current best practices and change the zoning for this site to reflect that new standard. We need to do that assessment now so that the new standards may be reflected in the project’s design.

      1. Howard P

        Mark, understand that I agree with your main thrust, but there is a difference between “demand” and “need”… parking ‘demand’ is a reality of the unwashed masses (personal, to them)… ‘need’ is a value judgement made by detached individuals, who don’t care much for demand, and like to use their ‘power’, one way or the other, to determine what the “demand” should be

        The proposal looks reasonable… leaning more and more to hoping it comes to fruition…

        I lived in an apartment immediately adjacent to the site for a year… did not own a car, and was fine using bike or foot to go to campus… (except when it rained really hard)

        1. Mark West

          “The proposal looks reasonable…”

          Not really, as it is based on our outdated parking minimums, which we have been a point of discussion for a few years now. Time to make the change before they get enshrined yet again in another major project.

          “parking ‘demand’ is a reality of the unwashed masses (personal, to them)”

          I don’t believe anyone’s personal and arbitrary ‘demand’ for parking should be given any consideration at all. There is plenty of research available to help an experienced consultant determine the appropriate level of parking needed at the site, with an expected result that while not perfect, will be significantly better than what the current regulations require.

          Whether or not you owned a car while living nearby is of no consequence to the discussion. Your personal anecdotal experience is only significant to you and yours…

        2. Todd Edelman

          Demand and need are subjective. (You’re confusing this with vitamins, minerals, proteins and calories, right?) But anyway, you’re missing my point, which is that housing is more important than parking. Always. One person may make good use – even objectively – of a parking space, but housing in this space is always more important.
          If surface lots in certain areas – definitely areas such as where U-Mall resides – are not allowed, developers can choose between in-structure parking spaces – which don’t generate any income a good part of the day for office and retail, and generate a lower per-day monthly/semester-ly income, or housing, offices and retail.  I can’t see how the former can ever be more profitable than the latter.

        3. Mark West

          “Demand and need are subjective. (You’re confusing this with…right?)”

          No. One’s personal ‘demand’ for parking is subjective, but the optimal ‘need’ for parking at a given site is quantifiable.

          “you’re missing my point, which is that housing is more important than parking.”

          Again, No. I did not miss your point, you were quite clear. Your approach to meeting that ‘point’ however is extreme and not practicable, which is true for much of your advocacy.

          I agree with your desire to reduce the amount of parking to make room for more useful spaces, either residential or commercial, I just believe your approach to reaching that goal is driven more by your personal desires and prejudices than by any sort of rational analysis of qualified experts.

        4. David Greenwald

          I believe that Davis Live made a compelling case for fewer residential parking units.  However, in the case of this project, it’s almost immaterial.  While I too respect Todd’s perspective of wanting to reduce parking and agree with it, in this case, the reduction of parking is not going to lead to additional housing.

        5. Mark West

          DG: “I believe that Davis Live made a compelling case for fewer residential parking units.”

          Jeff Tumlin in his presentation at the Davis Futures Forum identified the parking requirement at our neighborhood centers as being a significant problem for redevelopment.

          As you stated in your article yesterday,

          “The shopping center community parking requirements for the site is 3.5 parking spaces per 1,000 sf, which equates to 429 required parking spaces.”

          Re-evaluating this parking minimum to better match current ‘best practices’ might free up space and funds for more productive use. Just because the requirement is on the books doesn’t mean it is the best approach.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I think that’s a good idea. There are two key numbers at least for the residential portion. One is the percentage of students who drive in Davis which is about 30 percent. But the other is the percentage of students who drive within 1 mile of campus – substantially less which is why Davis Live reduced their parking further. I’d like to see metrics for commercial. As I recall from when I used to go to the grad, there were times, you couldn’t find a parking spot anywhere in that lot.

        6. Ron

          David:  “One is the percentage of students who drive in Davis which is about 30 percent. But the other is the percentage of students who drive within 1 mile of campus – “

          Does this only refer to trips to/from campus?  Do more than 30% drive “elsewhere” (within Davis, and/or beyond)”? If so, then your statement is misleading.

          If adequate parking is not provided, what would prevent the new student residents from parking cars in surrounding neighborhoods, and/or the parking spaces intended for customers of the businesses?

          Creating adequate parking facilities is not necessarily for the convenience of the new residents.  Part of the reason for it is to ensure that nearby residents and existing businesses are not negatively impacted, by new residents who park their cars in existing spaces, or in spaces that are intended to serve the commercial space.

          The existing parking lot is already inadequate/impacted.

        7. David Greenwald

          “Does this only refer to trips to/from campus?  Do more than 30% drive “elsewhere” (within Davis, and/or beyond)”? If so, then your statement is misleading.”

          30 percent is the total percentage of students with access to a vehicle.
          “If adequate parking is not provided, what would prevent the new student residents from parking cars in surrounding neighborhoods, and/or the parking spaces intended for customers of the businesses?”
          Permits and security.  For instance, if you park at U-Mall and try to walk to campus, they have private security who put a warning note on your car (or at least that was the case when I parked there ten years ago and walked to the ARC).

        8. Ron

          And the same issue would apply to visitors of the new residences, as well.

          Do you have a citation to support the 30% claim? You’re stating that 70% of students have no local access to a private motor vehicle whatsoever?

          Regarding private security, how would that help residents of surrounding neighborhoods, if new residents start parking there (due to inadequate on-site parking)?

          Again, these types of concerns are likely the reason that minimum parking requirements were established in the first place.

    1. Howard P

      Yes and it doesn’t address the effect of gamma rays on marigolds planted to the north…

      Since the climate is getting more severe, where winter sun will be more intense, I think it might be shown that this spares the life, decreases morbidity to the folk to the north… a place I lived in for a year…

  5. Jeff M

    Riding my bike down that stretch of Russel today where all this student housing is going, I think the problem is going to be a lack of retail in that area.  For example, no grocery store within walking distance.  And with a lack of retail in that area, there will be a need for vehicles.

    That is the problem with Measure R and the reactionary no-growth types… we end up with a less comprehensive vision and plan for what makes a great self-contained community within walking distance.

  6. Wesley Sagewalker

    From Ron “Evidence shows that developers primarily want to build housing, not commercial developments. And, developers are more than ready to fulfill the need for student housing that UCD doesn’t want to address, regardless of the fiscal and other impacts on the city of these student/megadorm proposals. ”

    This actually brings up a pretty interesting possibility to consider; chiefly, that the difficulties in redeveloping properties as purely residential will create a subsidy of sorts for commercial space (and thus, for existing and potential Davis businesses) by expanding the supply of constructed commercial space as part of a mixed-use project beyond its natural market equilibrium. This could have a rather salutary (though likely small) effect on fostering innovation and expanding city revenue sources.

    Private developers can build housing for students and others faster and cheaper than UCD. It is more economically efficient to allow companies which specialize in constructing housing with the constraints and considerations of market competition to address Davis’ housing needs (and yes that includes UCD students’ housing needs too) and let UCD focus on its core missions of research and education. Insisting on UCD spending its time and resources provisioning housing seems especially illogical to me given the Vanguard’s well-researched findings that living on campus is much more expensive than off largely due to the ancillary costs such as meal plans.

    1. Ron

      Wesley:

      “This could have a rather salutary (though likely small) effect on fostering innovation and expanding city revenue sources.”

      Which would be offset by the permanent, long-term fiscal losses created by the accompanying housing. (This is likely a primary reason that UCD has been resistant to building housing on campus. Thereby forcing the city to “hold the bag”, instead.)

      “Private developers can build housing for students and others faster and cheaper than UCD.”

      No evidence has been presented to support this statement (today, or previously). (Actually, private developers also build housing on campus.) Others have noted that (depending upon the source of funding), “fair wage” laws do not necessarily apply, to build housing on campus.

    2. Ron

      Also note that if UCD houses the ever-increasing amount of students, they (students) would still venture into the city (to help support local businesses).  (Although we’ve already established that students tend to spend less than other cohorts.)

  7. Jim Frame

    Some folks might be “relieved” that such developments are not being proposed right next to their homes. But, few seem to be concerned about the overall impact on the city, and its fiscal health.

    One of the impacts of *not* building student housing projects like this is that I now have 4 (with more on the way) members of the UCD men’s soccer team living next door.  A Saratoga family bought the house at full asking price as soon as it hit the market this summer so their son and his friends will have a place to live, and they plan to drop a pre-fab granny flat in the back.  When their son graduates I suspect it’ll become just another neighborhood mini-dorm.

    Last week I was working at a place on Anderson Road, and over the back fence I noticed a middle-aged couple hauling trash from the house and piling it in the backyard pending removal.  In chatting up the man I learned that for the last year it had been rented to members of the UCD crew squad, and the San Jose-based owners were appalled at the condition in which the house was left when the boys moved out.

    For the record, my new neighbors seem to be nice kids, but 20-year-old college students typically see the world from a very narrow and self-centered perspective (I know this because I currently have one at UCSD).  Their concept of neighborhood pertains to their family home, not their college housing.  I’m approaching the relationship with wary optimism, but I have the phone numbers of the owners and the soccer coach, just in case.

    1. Ron

      Jim:  I understand the concern, but unless this issue is permanently settled with UCD, you might ultimately end up with a “megadorm” (or at least the elimination/replacement of single-family houses) next door to you in the future.  (In other words, a lot more than 4 students living next door, on a redeveloped property.)  I recall that last year, there were two small houses downtown / near UCD, which will be converted into a much larger development (despite the concerns regarding parking etc., from neighbors). I don’t recall if there were actually some waivers of requirements approved there, as well.

      I personally doubt that the “mini-dorm” conversions can be stopped (for properties close to UCD), since the rent will likely remain cheaper than other/newer options (and the lack of an onsite landlord allows more freedom).  In addition, there are likely property owners who actually want to allow/encourage such conversions (as demonstrated by your neighbor).

       

  8. Wesley Sagewalker

    W.r.t. the “mega-dorm” rhetoric and following up on my comment referenced in the article (I was tickled by the shout-out), here are some interesting papers that have been published recently about housing supply vs. rent. In this one from 2016, the authors estimated that rents decrease by 3% for every 2% increase in the housing stock. Link: http://davidalbouy.net/housingexpenditures.pdf This estimate tracks pretty well with a slightly different approach (and model parameters) here: experimental-geography.blogspot.com/2016/05/employment-construction-and-cost-of-san.html which finds a 1% increase in housing stock creates a 1.7% decrease in rent [caveat, this second link is to work focusing on S.F. housing in particular, but the similar magnitudes at least gives us a flavor of what is a realistic assessment]. Adding additional housing stock like what this project offers is critical in addressing the high level of rent which creates numerous negative externalities in Davis’ neighborhoods, streets, and governing institutions.

  9. Jeff M

    Have four college students renting the large and expensive home next door to us.  Just purchased by the parents of one of the students.  Thankfully the parents have connected with all the neighbors around their new purchase to make sure we report issues with the kids.

    But sad that another family did not buy the place and move in.  Nothing against early 20-something renters, but they are not generally value-add to the neighborhood.

    1. Ron

      This type of thing has been going on for years (and is similar to one of the examples that Jim provided, above).  (Wealthy parents purchasing a house for their kid to attend UCD, who will then bring in roommates.)

      This might be viewed as an example of smart parents (and ultimately the reason that they’re wealthy enough to do this in the first place). The fact that they reached out to you and others is also a demonstration of their intelligence and responsibility.

      I’ve read (a number of times) that the housing market is expected to (at the very least) level-off, soon.  And perhaps decline.  But, the example you provided might still be better than paying rent, for those able to do it. (Actually, the roommates will presumably pay rent.)

  10. Todd Edelman

    And this project is generic-looking and completely lacks any imagination. A big asphalt area that radiates heat all night… so stupid and short-sighted.

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