Commentary: Where Will Our Affordable Housing Come from in the Future?

It is unfortunate that, in a lot of ways, the Measure L campaign was a distraction from the core issues that this community faces, and yet in some ways it was not.  One of the biggest challenges we face in this community is going to be how to provide affordable housing in a community that is unlikely to have any significant peripheral development in the next decade.

The WDAAC (West Davis Active Adult Community) affordable housing proposal was much debated, but there is a core issue that it raises – is this going to be the only significant affordable housing proposal we will see in this city over the next decade?  The No side will argue that the project itself is bad regardless of what you think of the affordable housing proposal, and therefore we should vote no, send it back to the developers and the city and get something better.

While the No side will point to Nishi which was defeated and came back to the voters and was passed, I’m not so sure that this will follow that path.  Win or lose, my belief is that this is going to be the last peripheral residential development for some time.

Whether you believe that the city has a need for the overall market rate project, the argument for the affordable project is overwhelming in my view.  You are talking about 150 to 170 low income seniors.  The developers estimate based on demographics from other similar projects that a huge percentage will be elderly female, 37 percent minority, 22 percent with disabilities, the average age will be 75 years and one-third of the units will be for people below $13,000 a year.

And there is a huge and growing need for these services.  The waiting list has grown by 127 percent in just a year, from 186 in 2016 to 423 in 2017.

Is that reason enough to support this project?  You’ll need to answer that for yourself.

For me though, the prospects for affordable housing in the city of Davis look pretty bleak.  The affordable housing ordinance update is sobering, to say the least.

The biggest problem we face is that there is no way to build affordable housing without it being linked to market rate housing.  Someone pointed out to me that affordable housing is exempt from the need for a Measure R vote.  That sounds good until you realize that you would need someone to donate land for that housing without another project attached to it – how is that ever going to happen?

The most likely projects in the near future will be infill or mixed use projects and the prospects for affordable housing in those is somewhat bleak.

In the report just released, staff notes, “[A]partment developments have been proposed, and some have even included affordable housing components. However, with the exception of the Sterling project, the approved apartment development plans have been by-the-bed/bedroom rental, and not the by-the-unit affordable housing addressed in this report.”

Once Creekside is built beginning this fall, Sterling, which has a dedicated site for 38 family-oriented apartments developed by Mutual Housing, will be the last remaining parcel dedicated for non-profit affordable housing within the city limits.

Worse yet, a lot of the future housing projects will look like Brixmor’s redevelopment of the University Mall – they will be dense, dynamic, exciting, but they will also be vertical mixed use and therefore not likely to have affordable housing.

The report put out by Plescia and backed by BAE Urban Economics finds that “under current economic conditions – the Downtown Core Mixed-Use and Large Urban Mixed-Use are unlikely to be feasible, even without inclusion of any affordable housing requirements. Construction of the Large Traditional prototype may have the potential to be feasible, however, may not have sufficient net project value to support land acquisition costs in Davis.”

Without the ability to offer land dedication, the prospects for large affordable housing projects is very limited.

While there are some possibilities still for on-site affordable housing, the advantages of land dedication are immense.  It allows the developer to have “access to local, state, and federal subsidies that are available only for 100% affordable projects.”  Further it allows “for the inclusion of extremely-low-income units and/or projects that serve vulnerable populations such as seniors, individuals who are experiencing chronic homelessness, and individuals who have a mental health disorder,” and “[i]ntegration of social services can be facilitated with non-profit owned, 100% affordable housing.”

At the same time, the need for affordable housing is great.  The prospects for median income families to purchase their own homes are small.  The affordability of even two- or three-bedroom apartments for families is limited as the prices range from $1600 to $2400 a month for market rate two- to three-bedroom apartments.

The report found rather sobering results looking at the plight of low to very and extremely low income families in Davis.

HUD (Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) estimates that around 8956 households are in the low to extremely low income range in Davis and “[a]pproximately 80% of these households are paying more than 30% of their income for housing.”

Furthermore, “Of the extremely-low-income renter households, fewer than 7% are paying less than 30% of their income for housing, and an additional 4% are paying between 30% and 50% of their income for rent. The remaining 88% are either paying more than 50% of their income for housing, or have no income.”

As a result of overpaying, they have less than 70 percent of their income available for other goods and services, which includes food and transportation.

In our view, whether Measure L wins or losses, it is likely to be the last peripheral project for some time.  There are a variety of factors involved in that.  One is the amount of risk and difficulty of getting projects passed and the uncertain expenditure of large sums of money and time.

Without peripheral housing, unless the funding dramatically changes in the next governor’s administration, there simply will not be the possibility for anything other than a few scattered affordable housing projects in town.

In our view the biggest need is for housing for those folks making between 80 and 120 percent of annual median income.  Those are the families that are likely to have children that would populate our schools, but cannot afford, for the most part, to buy homes in Davis – and apartments are out of their range because they can purchase homes elsewhere for what they pay for rent in Davis.

Voters today will have to make a decision on Measure L and whether we need senior housing and 150 units of senior affordable, but the bigger question still remains – where do we go in the future for affordable housing?  That’s a tough question for which we have no answer thus far.

—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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78 thoughts on “Commentary: Where Will Our Affordable Housing Come from in the Future?”

  1. Keith O

    In our view the biggest need is for housing for those folks making between 80 and 120 percent of annual median income.  Those are the families that are likely to have children that would populate our schools, but cannot afford, for the most part, to buy homes in Davis – and apartments are out of their range because they can purchase homes elsewhere for what they pay for rent in Davis.

    Exactly, and how does WDAAC fill that need?  For other than a handful of seniors this is not the development that Davis needs or wants.  If this is going to be the last peripheral project for a long time why have it be so non-inclusive?  It will add to worse traffic, harder to park downtown, more sprawl, longer waits at traffic signals and signs, more congestion, etc.

    Vote NO on L.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      My article points out that WDAAC affordable component fills the need of providing housing for at least 400 low income seniors on a waiting list. Is that enough to overcome your other concerns? That’s for you to decide.

      1. Keith O

        My article points out that WDAAC affordable component fills the need of providing housing for at least 400 low income seniors on a waiting list.

        I thought it only contained units for 150 to 170 low income seniors?

      2. Keith O

        Your article also points out what needs WDAAC doesn’t meet which I think the voters will feel is much more important than what’s basically the needs of a handful of seniors.

  2. Rik Keller

    David Greenwald: I trust you will join me in trying to ensure that the City’s Affordable Housing Ordinance will not be weakened permanently as this report is discussed? We can also advocate for reinstating the City’s Middle Income Ordinance that was suspended in 2009 due to the efforts of the Chanber of Commerce. Finally, we can advocate for projects that truly address the full-range of primary internal housing needs as defined and identified in the City’s planning documents.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Part of the problem that the Plescia report identifies here and the BAE report for the downtown showed is the big impediment of cost – so you can strengthen provisions and end up decreasing the amount of affordable housing you end up producing. You’ve pointed out that efforts of 2009, but you weren’t there at that time. It was the middle of a recession and the housing collapse. RDA was about to be eliminated. Cost was a huge factor.

      There is a delicate balancing act on all of this stuff that has to be taken into consideration. A key issue will be what happens after Jerry Brown, will Gavin Newsom, presuming he wins, support some kind of tax increment. How much will it be.

      Last summer I went on the Sacramento Housing Alliance’s affordable housing tour and it was fascinating to learn how the affordable developments were finances, how they got the land, how they were built. The impact of the loss of RDA and other federal funding as well.

      Bottom line – I don’t know what I will advocate for. But I think it’s a lot more complicated that weaken/ strengthen as you imply.

      1. Rik Keller

        Of course it’s complicated.

        One thing to do would be to look into the assumptions and analysis of the report rather than accepting it at face value.

        I would be interested in hearing your analysis of the history of the 2009 suspension of the Middle Income Ordinance and why it hasn’t been reinstated since the recovery.  The Ordinance was supported by a series of in-depth studies when it was adopted (including, interestingly, an analysis of possible disparate impacts against minority populations), but I have not seen any evidence that its suspension had a similar degree of supporting rationale and analysis.

         

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          I agree with that it would be interesting to look back on it, I haven’t had an opportunity to go back over my notes from the time and talk to people who were on the council. My only point here was to point out that decisions are time specific and therefore we need to understand the context of them.

  3. Jim Hoch

    “One of the biggest challenges we face in this community is going to be how to provide affordable housing” Why is this a challenge? Is the current situation bothering current residents? If you polled people here I would be surprised if even 20% identified this as a problem unaided.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Maybe that should be your next “poll”? Although I do think you hedge your bet by making it current residents. I do wonder exactly where the 57% of residents who are renters would come down? Are you including them?

      1. Jim Hoch

        Including renters who vote regularly will bring it up a little. Many of them are aware that any affordable housing built will likely not be available to them.

        But my point that people outside the Vanguard bubble are not clamoring for this stands.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          Let me know what your “polling” shows. At the core, I don’t think I agree with your assessment but don’t have hard data on it.

        2. Jim Hoch

          So let ask you a question. What benefit does “affordable housing” bring current voters? The current policy is simply a fig leaf that represents the mid point between people’s political sensibilities and their true interests.

          There is plenty of affordable housing in nearby communities. I would also note while you “don’t have hard data on it” that did not stop you from using the declarative.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Some people for instance see the lack of affordable housing leading to declining school enrollment. Others see it as an impact on the quality of teachers and ability to retain teachers. Some will see it as another factor leading the live/work imbalance that has lead to heavy traffic.

            “There is plenty of affordable housing in nearby communities. ”

            I’m not sure that’s an accurate statement. But even if it were, that would mean the continuation of people working in the downtown or at UC Davis and then driving from surrounding communities rather than figuring out ways to house these populations in order to get them off the roads.

        3. Jim Hoch

          “Some people for instance see the lack of affordable housing leading to declining school enrollment.”
          I’ve seen that argument a few times but never understood the point. DJU has the ability to have as many students as they want now. More local students would not impact DJU revenue in either direction. Are students from Affordable Housing better students than transfers? I suspect students from Affordable Housing tend to be more expensive to educate so where is the benefit?

          “Others see it as an impact on the quality of teachers and ability to retain teachers. Some will see it as another factor leading the live/work imbalance that has lead to heavy traffic.”
          I would be in favor of offering Affordable Housing to the local workforce but that is not how it usually works. I did not see anything about a local workforce requirement and often agencies that finance these projects prefer lotteries from regional lists and that is likely to increase traffic.
          “people working in the downtown or at UC Davis and then driving from surrounding communities rather than figuring out ways to house these populations in order to get them off the roads.”
          Many people who work at UCD can afford a place in Davis, they just choose a bigger house elsewhere. $400/square foot for a dump, sorry “quaint cottage”, is not for everyone.

        4. Richard McCann

          Surprisingly enough, there are quite a few compassionate people in Davis who want to have a more diverse community. As Rik Keller pointed out, and recent studies have highlighted, the personal wealth needed to buy a house is concentrated among a specific demographic, and that wealth differential has become a barrier to desegregating our community.

          In addition, the jobs/housing imbalance is causing excessive greenhouse gas emissions which exacerbates the risk of climate change.

        5. Jim Hoch

          “Surprisingly enough, there are quite a few compassionate people in Davis who want to have a more diverse community.” 

          Until that shows up in the voting results I would rate that claim “mostly false”

          People who value the diversity you are referring to would not have moved to Davis in the first place. It’s like going to HomeTown Buffet and asserting that the patrons really want healthy food.

        6. Jeff M

          People who value the diversity you are referring to would not have moved to Davis in the first place. It’s like going to HomeTown Buffet and asserting that the patrons really want healthy food.

          Exactly.  It is like looking for a lost wallet in the sunny park after having lost it in the dark and dank cellar.

          If you are a social justice activist why live in Davis and not a neighborhood filled with people that really need the help?  Not only is there not enough material in Davis to justify the credentials, the people attracted to this identity tend to make up stories of a lost wallet in the park just so they have enough to do.

          Also virtue signaling helps mitigate from having to take responsibility for actual choice and behavior.  It is why Harvey Weinstein donated to Democrats.

          If you are a Davis no-grower / NIMBY you can claim being an advocate for those of low economic circumstances while blocking housing development that would increase the supply of housing and thus help reduce price pressure that would mean more affordability for lower income people.   If you are REAL cheeky you can even claim to reject all development because it does not include enough affordable units… generally knowing full well that the project is not financial feasible with the numbers of affordable units you are demanding and thus would never be built.

  4. Ron

    Jim:  “What benefit does “affordable housing” bring current voters?”

    That is a good question.  One thing to remember is that Affordable housing developments are exempt from property taxes, and do not “pay their way” to help offset the costs that they generate to cities.  I wonder what percentage of housing in Davis is already Affordable?  And, what an ideal percentage would look like, in terms of fiscal stability?

    Perhaps something to remember, the next time that some start clamoring for an innovation center, such as the one previously proposed for the WDAAC site:

    http://davisinnovationcenter.org/the-project/project-location/

    Some will likely start clamoring for this again (soon), regardless of the outcome of WDAAC proposal.

    A bigger factor regarding peripheral proposals is the downturn in the housing market, which is now in its early stages.

      1. Ken A

        Not many people will say this publicly since it is not PC, but other than the very small number of people who have “given up” and due to old age, health problems or the dislike of work have decided that they will never be able to afford to buy a place or even rent a market apartment almost no one wants any “affordable” housing near them.

        The developers made a great move picking “senior – affordable” housing since people like that a lot more than “all ages – affordable” housing with kids that always ends up lowering test scores at local schools and increasing petty crime like tagging in the area after the kids move in to the affordable units.

        1. Jim Hoch

          “lowering test scores at local schools and increasing petty crime like tagging in the area after the kids move in to the affordable units.”

          Or even worse, they start blogs.

  5. Ron

    Ultimately, I wouldn’t be surprised if the University Mall proposal is changed to include Affordable housing.  That site is large (8.25 acres, up to 7 stories high?), and is not a typical infill/mixed use proposal.

    If the city continues to exempt all vertical mixed-use, we’ll end up with even more commercial areas changed to semi-residential areas, such as Del Rio at 5th and Pena. (Still wondering what percentage of viable businesses actually exist on the first floor of those buildings, on a former commercial site that I understand was subdivided to accommodate individual housing.)

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      That goes way too far. You have a point about the divisiveness. But you’re also missing the split on the left between those favoring environmental policies and social justice policies.

      1. Jeff M

        You don’t get the point.  Taking something that is economic and drawing race conclusions from it is in fact racist.  THAT is what goes way too far.

        Racism is identified in people that use race as an argument when there is no direct connection to race.   WDAAC is open to people of all races.

         

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          “You don’t get the point. Taking something that is economic and drawing race conclusions from it is in fact racist. THAT is what goes way too far.”

          No, it’s not. It may be a lot of things, but it’s not racism. You’re misusing the term and undermining your point.

        2. Jeff M

          No, I am doing what should be done and putting the label where it belongs.

          The fascination with racial differences that prevents many liberals from treating any person with a nonwhite racial identity as someone much like themselves only derives policies and programs that reinforce old assumptions about race that are patently racist.

          The epitome of racist thought is that which assigns a difference based on race.  Liberals are afflicted with this type of thinking.  They see the world thought race (and other identity politics labels) colored glasses.

          Economic factors are economic factors.  It is when it is taken to the next racial level that is in fact racist.

        1. Jeff M

          They are a kindred spirit with you in a different way.

          Good job Richard.  You found a way to make a personal attack but subtle enough that the moderator cannot tell.

        1. Ken A

          It is a great term since when most people in Davis that say: “Surprisingly enough, there are quite a few compassionate people in Davis who want to have a more diverse community.” What they really mean is they would feel better if the community “looked” more “diverse”
          Anyone that “really” wants a “more diverse community” will move to Woodland, or West Sac and not only have more “diversity” but more “money” since rents and home prices are so much lower.
          My wife’s super well educated Davis friends often comment that their yoga classes, book clubs, tennis groups and golf foursomes are usually as white a DAR meeting in Alabama.
          Most people in Davis would love to have the community “look” more diverse (like a Potemkin Village looks great) and would be happy to include a woman of color in their groups as long as she had a grad degree from Harvard, Stanford or Yale (maybe even Brown or UCLA)…

        2. Ken A

          As a guy who grew up poor and went to a crappy college that is married to a woman who grew up rich and went to a couple of the most prestigious Ivy League schools I am amazed how many many people assume that my background is similar to my wife’s when they make disparaging statements  about working class people (like most of my relatives) affordable housing, colleges not in the top 50 or even the “minor Ivies” (like the former GOP presidential candidate that is so unlikeable that he pushed voters to pick Trump)

          https://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2013/09/23/ted-cruz-only-wanted-study-buddies-from-princeton-harvard-and-yale

        3. Jeff M

          Ken – the education prestige thing is not new, the difference is that the bats have left the belfry with the changes in the economy.

          Prior to the conversion to a tech and information economy, what did those high academic credentialed people do for a living?  professor, lawyer, doctor, government employee, government-dependent scientist?  Now engineers always did well, but much of their role has been automated today… and replaced by the computer, software and network engineer.

          I think it used to irk many of these people that the B-average captain of the La Crosse team ended up more economically successful than them with all their academic prowess and credentials.  But most of their academic ego thing used to stay within their own academic clicks.

          But beginning in the 1990s they started to ooze out as leaders in the economy while the educated professional class exploded as the new upper class.  We flooded the trades and other blue collar work with cheap immigrant labor imports, while also allowing the Ivy League-educated politicians to chase globalism and pass bonehead trade policy that allows for the wholesale export of our domestic labor to cheaper foreign offerings.  At the same time government workers became the new millionaires from the Democrat-union collusion thing.

          Now these people all sit in smug economic superiority over the old middle class.  And they are terrified of going back to that time when that B-average student of a state college earns a better living.  They cannot help but call those people “irredeemable deplorables”… but they also cannot stop the political corrections of their destructive tools like political correctness that knocks them back off their high horse to a place they belong.    Have you noted that the recent downturn in the market is the overpriced tech stocks?

      1. Rik Keller

        Richard McCann: related to this, I came across someone recently who was opposed to Measure L because it provides too much affordable housing and he believes that the appropriate place for affordable housing for Davis is in Woodland and Dixon. I—perhaps naively—hadn’t previously considered that might be a position.

        1. Jim Hoch

          “Davis is full of people who want to exclude “the poors”” If by “my circles” you other people who vote then, yes, that is how they vote.

          Why would anybody move here, at $400/square foot, if they want to live near poor people?

          I have a very hard time understanding your statements. You can see the voting patterns as easily as I can. Perhaps you prioritize what people say over what they do while I am the reverse? 

          Hypothetical ballot item:

          a) We want to pay taxes to build Affordable Housing in Woodland/West Sac/Dixon

          b) We want to pay taxes to build Affordable Housing in our own neighborhoods in Davis

          c) We want to pay taxes to build Affordable Housing in Rancho Cordova, Citrus Heights, and Yuba City

          What percentage of the vote would each option get in Davis?

  6. Jeff M

    The difference between a truly compassionate conservative and a truly compassionate liberal is that the conservative would admit the negative impact to the community by having more low income residents while also advocating for more.   The truly compassionate liberal would deny any negative impact and claim you are a racist for suggesting it.

    Then we have the pragmatic and unashamed factual conservative that says keep them out, keep property values high and keep traffic to a minimum… all with the goal of keeping the community a nicer place to live in.

    Next we have the disingenuous liberal that claims advocacy for the lower income people, but does everything they can behind the cloak of caring to limit the numbers of lower income people moving to their community.

    Davis has a lot of the latter.

    1. Jim Hoch

      Most people will do whatever they believe is in their best interests. In Davis that means putting one or more of Al Hirsh’s signs on your lawn to signal virtue while voting against Affordable Housing to protect your nest egg.

      If you meet Rik Keller, don’t mention what happens in the voting booth, show him the lawn.

    2. Eric Gelber

      What do the following things have in common?

      – Western Black Rhinoceros

      – Pyrenean Ibex

      – Baiji River Dolphin

      – Compassionate Conservative

      Answer: They have all gone extinct in the last 50 years.

  7. Ken A

    Does anyone know if the “affordable” rental housing in Davis has an annual income check for residents or if once you get in you (say as a low paid grad student) can stay as long as you like (even if you become a well paid tenured UCD professor with $100K in extra income from serving on boards)?

  8. Edgar Wai

    Some general design principles:

    1. If a person is fully employed (e.g. works a 40 hours week) they should be able to find and afford housing in the town they work.

    2. A person should not rent out a house they own unless they also live in that house.

    3. Apartments complexes should be owned by the city as a join venture of the city’s residences. This is because housing, and the providing of such, fulfills a basic necessity. It should not become a business, and local people retains control of its composition and provides for people required to maintain its composition.

    4. In approving who may move into an apartment operated by the city, the priority should be to those who work locally.

    5. Probably other residential property owners who do not live there as primary residence should be taxed more. The long they keep the property without living there, the more they should be taxed. People should be happy to have just one primary residence. Share some love and let others own their own houses where they live. Share the American Dream.

      1. Edgar Wai

        I have not watched the movie. Even if I did, I cannot assume what you want me to address.

        I was just trying to say that a person working at minimum wage in a city should be able to afford housing in the same city. If there is no such housing, the city has the ethical responsibility to make that happen.

        1. Keith O

          No, one lives where one can afford.  If one wants to live in Menlo Atherton on a minimum wage job is that city responsible for supplying that person housing?

        2. Jeff M

          Edgar – Sorry, I did not mean that to slight your ideas.  I appreciate your progressive thinking.  However, as I read through them I started thinking of a utopia where the law of unintended consequences ends up making a mess of things.   The problem we always face trying to engineer society to be more egalitarian is that human free will always wins unless controlled by punishment and eventually with bullets.  This made me think of that book and movie The Giver.  That is the premise of the story.

          Your ideas are largely in the space that I see as engineered scarcity… one, for example, that supports pigovian taxes.   This conflicts directly with the economic scarcity principle…  were a limited supply of a good, coupled with a high demand for that good, results in a mismatch between the desired supply and demand equilibrium.  It also checks the invisible hand of capitalism which tends to find equilibrium only with a bit of central control assistance to ensure strong competition for goods providers.

          I spent this weekend in Pasadena where my other office is located.  I think Pasadena is nice contrast to Davis in that Pasadena is a community owning a more abundance mindset.  It is also a very nice place to live.   I know Pasadena also has high rents, but it is also building a lot of new housing… it currently shows a vacancy rate of 5% which is healthy.  The average 1 bedroom apartment rent in Pasadena is $2184 compared to $1309 for Davis.  But part of the reason that Pasadena rents are so high is that much of the rental housing is new.  And it is expensive to build new housing.

          But here is my point.  I have to pay my Pasadena employees more to afford to live in Pasadena or Glendale.  That is how the scarcity principle and invisible hand works.  Government does not need to mandate higher wages.  If people cannot afford to live in the community then business will not be able to find workers and will have to raise wages.

          That process seems messier and lacking sufficient control for some people.  But it is the best process when compared to the alternative that The Giver show us.

    1. Ken A

      Edgar posts Some general design principles:

      “1. If a person is fully employed (e.g. works a 40 hours week) they should be able to find and afford housing in the town they work.”

      I’m wondering how Edgar thinks a maid working in Atherton (lowest price home for sale today is $2,188,000) or Hillsborough (lowest price of home for sale today $2,695,000) can afford to live in the town they work?

      “2. A person should not rent out a house they own unless they also live in that house.”

      Does that mean that every time a visiting professor comes to Davis with his family to teach for a quarter he has to buy a sell a home?

       

      “3. Apartments complexes should be owned by the city as a join venture of the city’s residences.”

      I’m wondering if Edgar knows that the city of Davis does own a 112 unit apartment building on Drew Circle and it has been sitting OVER half empty for OVER ten (10) years.  The other government run housing in the area is on the UC Davis campus and while it is already some of the most expensive housing in the region the local unions want to make it even more expensive by requiring more union labor.

       

      “4. In approving who may move into an apartment operated by the city, the priority should be to those who work locally.”

      I’m wondering if Edgar would evict a family if the Dad got a teaching position at Sac State after completing his PhD?

      “5. Probably other residential property owners who do not live there as primary residence should be taxed more.”

      I’m wondering how much Edgar would tax people that owned homes in Davis but didn’t live here (or if he would tax the many UCD professors that leave for the cooler weather at their Sea Ranch or Tahoe homes in the summer).

      1. Edgar Wai

        Q1: Affordability is a matter of supply and demand, and scale. In case it is not obvious, I wasn’t saying everyone should have the same exact house if they work here. But by letting them live here and be a residence, they can properly vote on local issues. People who earn more can still own more or better things. But how many cars or how big your house is won’t affect voting. Whether you can afford to live in the town where you work (and make your contribution to the community) does affect whether you have a voice on issues that affect you.

        Q2: There could still be vacancy. For example an owner might be trying to sell or preparing to sell, or the owner could still decide to rent out the house despite higher tax, or the owner could just rent it out for a quarter and still have that address qualify as their primary residence because they live there for the majority of the year. Another option is there could be some city-owned properties in the form of houses, but I would expect those to be sold already. Another alternative is that the visiting family would live in an apartment instead.

        Q3: I didn’t know about Drew Circle. But if it is vacant, why are we still talking about providing affordable housing? Was Drew Circle designed to be affordable? What is it vacant?

        Q4: Eventually yes. The situation would be the similar to living in student housing. So if a Dad lives in an city-run apartment and changes job, and the apartments have a waiting list, the Dad will get a notice that their lease won’t be renewed. The city would not intentionally leave the unit vacant. It evicts or not renew based on the waiting list. If the waiting list is empty the Dad and family can renew.

        Q5: I think some regions are specific for vacation house, so those cities would have their own tax laws beneficial for their situation. The tax law I proposed was only if the owner rents out their Davis property and does not leave in that same property as their primary residence. So in your case of an UCD professor, who lives in the Davis property in the majority of the time, the tax law would not affect them. Even if Tahoe city or Sea Ranch city adopt the same tax law, the UCD professor would not be charged any extra tax if they don’t rent out those properties most of the time.

        Is such a tax law good? It allows a person to buy a house in Davis without renting it out, just so that they can keep others from living in Davis, perhaps? If you think of it that way, a person can already allows such behavior. Imagine that if the city can set its rent on what affordable housing should be, and an owner VOLUNTARILY rent out its property according to that pricing schedule to those on the waiting list, then the tax that the city would have charged the property owner (for not living there primarily) should be waived because the home owner is being RESPONSIVE to the need of the city and saving the city the trouble to maintain such rental facility.

        So just because a person may own more properties than they can live, they can still make some money by helping the city solve a housing problem and not be hit by extra tax.

  9. Edgar Wai

    If someone is working a minimum wage job in the city, they are contributing to the city in some way, doing some work that is needed by the people in the city.

    Do you just go to they and say, “Thank you for spending your time to work here. You earned your minimum wage. Yes you worked 40 hours a week here, and for us, for this city, and TIME spent by each person is the same for everyone. But the type of work you do is just not good enough for you to live here.”

      1. Edgar Wai

        I think the basic dynamics of economical oppression is that:

        1) A person wants to live and they need money, so they need to find work.
        2) A person can only find work if there is an employer. Ethics aside, an employee has the incentive to pay as little as possible.
        3) If a person is not paid “enough”, they can’t afford to upgrade themselves or get any better work. They are stuck in whatever job they can find. They have no way to break the cycle.
        4) If they don’t live in the city where they can find work, they have no voting voice in changing how the city works.
        5) Because they have no voting voice, the employer keep doing what it does. And the cycle continues.

        1. Jim Hoch

          Most people change jobs frequently and don’t want to move every time they change jobs

          Most municipalities do not control either pay or working conditions so the ability to vote would not affect their work conditions

          “economical oppression ” is generally the best option. Who want to overpay for oppression? 

           

        2. Edgar Wai

          Keith O:
          “Not elitist at all, just practicable.  Is Menlo Atherton considered elitist because I can’t afford to live there.”

          In terms of what I was proposing, the first question would does the person work at Menlo Atherton. If they don’t they have to earn their way to live there. If they do work there, they have ethically earned their way to live there.

          Whether the people of Menlo Atherton subscribe to such ethical considerations to accommodate them is separate question. If they do subscribe, there are many ways to accommodate. For example, a worker could have a living quarter inside a mansion where they work. Or there could be an coop of another apartment castle built in similar style providing high density housing to workers without looking totally different.

          It all comes down to whether there is a waiting list of people who work there and want to live there. If no one who works there actually wants to live there, there is no housing problem to solve. If there are only people who wants to live there but don’t work there, there is also no housing problem to solve.

          1. Don Shor

            If they do work there, they have ethically earned their way to live there.

            Generally these problems of the gap between housing and income are solved by transportation systems. That’s one of the things lacking in Davis compared to other regions. People in Southern California or the Bay Area often don’t consider it unreasonable at all to live 30 – 45 miles or more from where they work. When my son was looking for work a while ago, he considered jobs as far as Elk Grove, Fairfield, and even Petaluma in one case. You just factor in how you’re going to get there to the economics of your decision-making process.

        3. Edgar Wai

          Jim Hoch:

          “Most people change jobs frequently and don’t want to move every time they change jobs”

          There is no problem if they just keep living in the same house they own. They might work 40 hours and commune 10 hours per week, but they still live and breathe in the town where they sleep. They are proper local residences.

          “Most municipalities do not control either pay or working conditions so the ability to vote would not affect their work conditions”

          I agree. The cycle I described might be flawed. Even if they can vote locally they might not be able to change anything.

          “Who want to overpay”

          What I proposed was that housing should not be seen as a normal business as it is today. It is related to voting and a basic need. It is fundamentally different from say owning cars. If you own many cars, you don’t necessarily make it more difficult for someone else to own a car or to vote at where they work. But if you own too many houses, it affects whether others can own a house and vote at where they work (where their livelihood is). The proposal was not asking employers to pay people more. But to keep people from owning too many houses and make money by doing so.

          A person can make money in many ways. Some ways are better or more ethical than others. Real property ownership (land) can conflict with ethics in a way that ownership of other stuff would not.

  10. John Hobbs

    [edited]
    ‘Thank you for spending your time to work here. You earned your minimum wage. Yes you worked 40 hours a week here, and for us, for this city, and TIME spent by each person is the same for everyone. But the type of work you do is just not good enough for you to live here.'”

    That is exactly what many wealthy people believe, Edgar. Indentured servitude is seen as a good thing.They would be quite happy with a Dubai type arrangement in Davis where the poor from other communities provide domestic service for essentially slave wages.  I believe that it will require a few of them  being eaten by the poor before their minds will change.

    1. Jeff M

      Nonsense.  Labor has a value.  Workers trade the value of that labor for pay.  If they want greater pay they should strive to increase the value of their labor.

      The minimum wage is a starting wage, not a wage for a liberal arts major to try and pay off his student loan debt.

      I made minimum wage when I was young.  If I was still making minimum wage today then the problem would be me, not the wage.

      1. Edgar Wai

        At minimum wage, a person earns about $1760 a month. As a ballpark figure, say a normal person can afford to spend 30% of their income on rent. Then this minimum wage person can afford a rent of $528.

        What kind of housing should that person be able to afford (and pay up to $528 for it in Davis)?

        This is what I think:

        a) Sharing an apartment with 2 other housemates.
        b) Renting a room in a house or sharing the rent to a room in a house.
        c) …?

        I was not talking about they should be able to own or rent an entire house. If they can’t afford to do (a) in Davis, what is the cause?

        a) There aren’t enough apartments
        b) Apartments don’t let 3 people live in a 2 bedroom, 1 bedroom, or studio unit.
        c) …?

        If apartments need to let people share rooms, then Davis can accommodate many more people without building anything. Perhaps the requirement would be that they have to work in Davis.

        By doing that, they can participate politically in Davis.

  11. Ken A

    When Edgar writes “It (housing) is fundamentally different from say owning cars. If you own many cars, you don’t necessarily make it more difficult for someone else to own a car” he does not ask “why” is housing different than cars and the main reason is that the government controls the number of homes people can build not the number of cars.  I can build a factory and build a million Kenslas (that will be even cooler than Teslas) but if I buy a million acres of land the government will not let me built a million new homes.  In Cuba the government regulates the number of cars and getting a car in Cuba is even harder than finding an apartment in Davis (that would be both cheap and easy if Covell Village and the Mace Curve had 10,000 new apartment units).

    1. Edgar Wai

      In some sense aren’t we talking about the same thing? We (Davis people) are controlling our local housing. In our context, whether someone can live here affects whether they can vote on our local measure and fully participate in a community that they contribute their working hours to.

      The question of how to include them or provide housing to them has many solutions.

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