Sunday Commentary: Progressive Boomers Blocking Housing Fixes – Part of a New Generational Struggle

A packed audience gathered in April about Mace Blvd.

A few days ago, the Huffington Post ran a lengthy article that found, “Progressive Boomers Are Making It Impossible For Cities To Fix The Housing Crisis,” and “Residents of wealthy neighborhoods are taking extreme measures to block much-needed housing and transportation projects.”

They describe a meeting in Seattle, where the co-chair of the city’s homelessness task force asked for the crowd to allow her to finish.  She asked, “Can I finish what I’m saying?”   “No!” the audience chanted back.

It was a scene we have seen in Davis from time to time.  Most recently was back in January, as neighbors of Pacifico jammed into the Montgomery Elementary Library and basically hijacked the meeting.

As the Huffington Post reports: “Seattle is not the only city where locals are losing their minds over issues related to housing, zoning and transportation. Ugly public meetings are becoming increasingly common in cities across the country as residents frustrated by worsening traffic, dwindling parking and rising homelessness take up fierce opposition.”

In recent months, the issue of housing has perhaps taken a back seat to homeless and traffic here in Davis.  Angry crowds have been shouting down naysayers and public officials in meetings on the Mace traffic concerns.  In the past we have seen this not only on Pacifico, but also some angry public meetings on the downtown homeless concerns.

Housing by contrast seems to have become more civil and less contentious, with more consensus developing.  Okay, maybe not.

After all, last spring during a debate, a project proponent, fed up with a series of absurd comments by the opposition speaker, finally said, “We need to focus on reality and the need and the merits of the project and not all these weird red herrings.  This is serious, let’s get rational.  People need housing.  This is good for everybody.”

Last fall, the battle over a housing development turned contentious if not ugly at times, with accusations and counter-accusations on both sides.

But in the end, the voters approved both projects – one in the June election and one in November, by healthy if not overwhelming margins.  A recent survey shows that by far the largest issue for many is the affordability of housing.

Still Davis has seen contentiousness on housing, homeless, and traffic.  But what we are seeing is that Davis is not particularly unique on this front these days.  Across the country, the battles are brewing and being waged.

Writes the Huffington Post: “Last September, a community hearing over a proposed homeless shelter in Los Angeles had to be cut short after boos and jeering repeatedly interrupted speakers. Throughout 2018, public meetings in Minneapolis to discuss changing the city’s residential zoning code erupted into shouts and insults from audience members. At a public meeting last August on homelessness in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, audience members chanted, “Lock her up!” at a female representative of the mayor’s office.

As they point out: “These scenes are usually sparked by projects or policy changes intended to address America’s worsening housing crisis.”

The problem is not limited to California – it is just worse in California, but it seems to be spreading.

The article points out: “More than 200 American cities now have median home values above $1 million. The construction of new dwellings has lagged behind the number of new households eight years in a row. Both congestion and climate change are prompting many cities to explore expanding their public transportation networks.”

The problem should be familiar as well.

The Post points out that “despite the urgency of the need and the expert consensus on solutions, individual efforts to increase density, improve transit or alleviate homelessness can spend years bogged down by local opposition.”

What is interesting is that while “[r]owdy public hearings are nothing new in city politics,” increasingly campaigners and elected officials are saying “that the nature of local opposition has changed in recent years. Where protest movements and civil disobedience were once primarily the tools of the marginalized, they have now become a weapon of privilege — a way for older, wealthier, mostly white homeowners to drown out and intimidate anyone who challenges their hegemony.”

“Most of the abuse I got came from older suburban or retired folks, and always from people who considered themselves progressive,” said Rob Johnson, a Seattle City Council member who retired in April after three years in office.

Sound familiar?

“Housing, homelessness and transit have always been controversial, but the kind of feedback and treatment we get has completely transformed in the last five years,” Councilmember Johnson said.

What they are finding is increasing tensions between old and young, owners and renters.

The Post makes two points.

First, “Nearly every major city in America has seen skyrocketing housing costs push renters out into the exurbs while enriching longer-term residents who bought real estate before the boom.”

Second is that “job growth in urban centers has worsened traffic, filled up parking spots and launched debates over cycling and scooters. Galloping inequality and a fraying safety net have made homelessness and poverty more visible.”

This has led to the relatively privileged mobilizing against perceived threats.

The next exchange should seem familiar as well.

The article quotes Alex Baca, who is a housing program organizer in Washington state.  He said that “neighborhood opposition groups nearly always claim to support public transit and affordable housing in general but use technical arguments and procedural roadblocks to make sure such projects aren’t built in their neighborhoods.”

The article points out: “Examples of this can be found in nearly every city experiencing job and population growth.”

Mr. Baca “sees the increasing ugliness of public forums as a manifestation of the widening generation gap among progressives.

“The boomer generation came of age at a time when neighborhoods were fighting back against highway expansions and power plants,” Mr. Baca said. “To them, preserving their neighborhood is progressive.”

We are seeing this in Davis.  The battle over Mace Blvd. for example has often seemed to be a group of angry, older, relatively well-off people who are arguing against changes to the roadway.  At times, parents have however pushed back, arguing that the road was unsafe for kids – and the city has presented data that since changes to the roadway occurred there is more bicycling by students at Pioneer.

We also see it at least somewhat in the data the city released.

When we look at the issue of affordability of housing, who is most concerned?  Thirty-eight percent of those 18 to 29 view it as the biggest problem.  That increases to 52 percent for the 30 to 39 group – those most likely, by the way, to have families with small children.  The 40 to 49 group sees the issue tail off somewhat to 32 percent.

But over 50, the number drops to 20 percent for 50 to 64 and 23 percent for those over 65.

There is a clear generational component here.  It is not absolute by any means.

On the Huffington Post, the concern is what “the unanswered question of the boomer backlash… means for the future of cities.”

They believe, at least in the short-term, “anti-growth activism is likely to increase urban inequality.”

They note, “Nearly three-quarters of the jobs created since the Great Recession were added in cities with populations over 1 million. As cities continue to swell with new workers, their inability to build dense housing and high-quality bus and train service will push low-income residents even farther away from jobs and schools.”

This is a crucial point.  It is why you see economic development projects that include housing and also provisions for transportation.  We need jobs, but we need places for the people who are working to live, and ways to get them to work.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$USD
Sign up for

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.

Related posts

78 Comments

    1. David Greenwald

      The evidence to date suggests otherwise:

      1. Measure R campaigns are contentious but there is at least a structured outcome to them. Remove Measure R and you end up with less structured conflict and the potential for contentious elections, meetings, petition drives, etc. Measure R is a symptom and perhaps culmination of these forces not the cause.

      2. Traffic is a key variable. Even more than housing this year, traffic has been contentious. That doesn’t go away and is perhaps exacerbated with more peripheral growth.

      3. This article poses inequality as a driver. Measure R’s removal does not solve it and may exacerbate that conflict.

      In short, you’re simple answer is too simplistic and ignores underlying factors. The fact of the matter is nowhere else has Measure R and yet as the Huffington Post article demonstrates, they don’t need it to be contentious.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Measure R is a symptom and perhaps culmination of these forces not the cause.

        Same can be said about “enabling”… with all its negative connotations. By all means, support “enabling”…

      2. Alan Miller

        Even more than housing this year, traffic has been contentious. That doesn’t go away and is perhaps exacerbated with more peripheral growth.

        Also perhaps exacerbated with more inner growth.  Except the new people won’t have cars.  Yeah, right.  Dream on.

    2. Richard McCann

      There’s a more concrete reason to end Measure R–the risk of project rejection late in the development process causes developers with options elsewhere in the region to avoid even starting the process of development. This greatly narrows the number of available developers who might bring forward better funded projects. The result is that much more development is pushed to other communities (e.g., Roseville, Elk Grove) that have much more lax sustainability standards. So the overall regional environment is worse off.

  1. Sharla Cheney

    Angry boomers taking over meetings about development in Davis is nothing new. Remember the meetings at Emerson over West Village ending with closing off access to Russell Blvd and delays in building housing on campus?

    1. Bill Marshall

      Yep… but some of those were more close to Gen X’ers… same thing, now…  anyone born during/after ~ 1966-68 ar ‘marginal’ boomers…

    2. Matt Williams

      Sharla, one of the prominent members of the West Village opposition is now on the City Council.  I believe I am correct in saying that he was one of the “angry boomer” parties in the opposition lawsuit.

    3. Richard McCann

      The opposition to West Village was complex. It had much more to do with the configuration of West Village than whether the project should exist. UCD wanted it to extend all the way to Olive Lane. The neighborhoods wanted a north-south alignment along 113 (which also would have connected it better to the Health Sciences Center.) UCD claimed it had opposition from faculty conducting research there (although that research was ruined by the building of the project anyway.) Closure of access to Russell would have been meaningless if UCD had also extended the project down 113 instead of along Hutchison. It turned out that UCD hadn’t thought of a lot of things, including how to share energy costs among tenants and how to construct SF housing with union labor.

  2. Don Shor

    The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) will shortly be issuing its Regional Housing Needs Allocations, which will trigger the requirement for a new housing element for the city’s General Plan. The next cycle for housing needs in 2021 – 2029. The process identifies needs, but does not mandate construction of housing. Review of how well each area has met the needs in different income levels shows that

    “There is no question that California’s RHNA process has failed to live up to its stated purpose, as most jurisdictions have continued to fail to meet their housing goals and those that do perform well often do so because there’s a relatively low bar of success. While the recently passed housing legislation package of 2017 may help improve RHNA data accountability and transparency, more enforcement mechanisms may be necessary in order to meet existing goals, as may be a comprehensive assessment of the goal-setting process to ensure it is not guaranteeing a continued shortage by setting goals according to the status quo, in which soaring costs and homelessness on the rise.”


    https://www.next10.org/sites/default/files/california-housing-goals-2019-3.pdf

    With the growth of the campus and in the region, Davis is probably about due to start planning for another subdivision. Voters have approved housing for specific groups such as renters and seniors. What is missing proportionally is housing for families, which is typically single-family homes with yards.

    The conflict in Davis is going to be between the urbanists, who have a utopian high-density model that doesn’t appeal to most families, allied with aging boomers, against the younger families who have wage-earners here but can’t buy homes here. They are buying the homes they prefer in Woodland, West Sacramento, and Dixon.

    If they finally put enforcement teeth in the SACOG RHNA process, Davis may find itself having to make some zoning decisions. SACOG can’t force annexation, but there is little question that annexing land for mid-price housing would be less contentious than trying to shoehorn in more tightly packed housing units into existing neighborhoods. It would also be the most effective way to create opportunities for affordable housing and very low-income housing.

    I suggest that the 2021-2029 housing needs cycle needs to be addressed clearly and repeatedly by candidates in the next council election cycle. This next council will direct the staff response to the Regional Housing Needs Allocation. It will tell the state how they plan to meet the goals. Mostly this has been pro forma, without evident results in the past. That may be changing due to new state laws.

    RHNA cycle 6 schedule here: https://www.sacog.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/rhna_cycle_6_faq_011819.pdf

    Note:  Aug 2019   HCD issues Regional Housing Needs Determination (RHND) 

    1. Bill Marshall

      While I support the stated goals, the “mandatory” thing is not politically, nor practically useful. There are many things I’m willing to do, and or have been doing, but if you (someone) TELLS, or demands I continue to do so, or more, my psyche tells my hackles to rise, and I tend to curtail, or stop.

      Ex:  we contribute a lot, financially and in personal effort, to charitable, humanitarian, like causes… if I am told/required to do that or increase our participation, I tend to do a “180”… dig my primitive heels in, as it were… and run the other way…

      The focus should be on education/awareness, and encouragement/support (works for me!) rather than coercion/demands (does not work well for me)… but, I may well be an outlier on that type of view.

  3. Ron Oertel

    They are buying the homes they prefer in Woodland, West Sacramento, and Dixon.

    Nothing that Davis does will change the plans for those areas.  Thousands of houses have been built, and thousands more are planned in Woodland, alone.  The same place where they’re also going to build an “innovation center”, with more than 2 million square feet of commercial space, and 1,600 more homes. (Within about 7 miles of UCD, via a freeway that is relatively unimpacted by traffic.)

    From that perspective, there is no “local shortage” of new construction for families.  Anything that Davis builds would just add more to a glut of such housing. However – any day now, a recession is expected that will temporarily delay construction in those nearby communities – as it did during the last recession. (Big time.)

    It’s unfortunate that Woodland and other communities do not have a Measure J/R.  But, Woodland apparently does have a voter-approved urban limit line (albeit allowing for a lot of new development until that line is reached).

    In any case, I suspect that other communities simply don’t value preservation of farmland (and discouragement of sprawl), to the degree that some in Davis do.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Also – let’s not forget that the construction dust hasn’t even settled at The Cannery, and the relatively large, infill Chiles Ranch workforce housing development is on the horizon.

    2. Richard McCann

      Nothing that Davis does will change the plans for those areas.  Thousands of houses have been built, and thousands more are planned in Woodland, alone. 

      Wrong. The housing market isn’t infinite. Housing built in one city reduces the demand for housing in a neighboring city. This is fundamental economics. The reason for Spring Lake in Woodland is the restriction on Davis housing. If instead Covell Village had been built, Spring Lake would have been scaled down substantially.

  4. Ron Glick

    “Nowhere else has Measure R…”
    You got that right. Measure R is the anti-development chokehold on Davis and needs to go. It adds time, money and litigation to every project that passes not to mention those that don’t, resulting in a never ending shortfall in housing as the population continues to grow the city can never catch up.

    You get addition traffic with additional people but you get additional congestion with infill. Its really a choose your poison dilemma on that we agree.

    I thought this article posits the conflict between old, so called progressives, and young renters. Traffic, dwindling parking and homelessness are the symptoms you cite but the truth is at the end of the day you support the continuation of policies that result in the inequality you claim to want to overcome.

    1. Rik Keller

      Ron G.: you keep claiming that Measure R has caused a housing price/rent spike in Davis without ever providing evidence for this claim. I have presented lots of data and analysis demonstrating that this is simply not true.

      1. Ron Glick

        Actually I didn’t Rik and remembered our discussions when writing my post but perhaps I need to clarify what I meant by money in my previous post. For this example lets stipulate that prices are inelastic and costs can’t be passed on. All that means is that the additional costs to developers reduce margins and dissuade them from trying to get projects approved by creating additional barriers to entry. Further, Measure R creates a crap shoot business environment where only the biggest players can take the risk of failure at the polls. Why take the risk when there are other opportunities in the world with greater certainties?

        Its the same all over but R makes it worse in Davis. High rents taking too much money from renters is a statewide phenomenon that leads to California  having great disparities in wealth and high poverty levels. If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.

      2. Richard McCann

        Rik

        You haven’t presented any such evidence. You cherry picked data post 2010 to support your point, but Measure J/R impacted the housing market in the early 2000s. The better evidence is how little Davis housing prices fell in 2008 while they tumbled in the surrounding cities. Davis has maintained a wider price margin since then.

        Ron Glick is on point in his critique of Measure R.

  5. Tia Will

    I do not pretend to offer any answers, but I would propose some basic principles for conversation:

    1. Civility – the answer to “can I finish what I am saying” should never be no. No speaker should ever be shouted down. The corollary would be that ample time is allowed for alternative positions to be heard.

    2. Honesty – too often, the speaker’s position is claimed to be the only reasonable one.

    This is serious, let’s get rational.  People need housing.  This is good for everybody.”

    No. There is essentially no change that is “good for everybody”. Dramatic changes to housing or business zoning is not “good” for those who are going to experience a dramatic change in their daily lives to accommodate others. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear a developer or development proponent say “We know this will be disruptive of your lives. We know it will degrade the quality of your lives. We are sorry and will do everything possible to mitigate the harm done to you”…and then actually do it.

    From the other side, wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear: “We know more housing is necessary and we are willing to take a hit to our preferred lifestyle in order to house others.”

    3. Safety – I would like to see a Health in All Policy approach. When there is a conflict between inconvenience and safety, as in bike lanes frequented by children vs a few minutes more on one’s commute, there should be no controversy. Safety should be the primary concern each and every time.

    1. Ron Oertel

      When there is a conflict between inconvenience and safety, as in bike lanes frequented by children vs a few minutes more on one’s commute, there should be no controversy. Safety should be the primary concern each and every time.

      For the sake of argument, what if $3 million is spent so that 10 more children are encouraged to ride their bikes to school (instead of being driven)?  If they’re being driven, there is no “safety concern”. In fact, they’re probably even safer.

      And “environmentally”, would keeping 10 car trips in place be worse than creating gridlock, for all drivers?

      My point is that cost/benefit should be examined, prior to making these decisions. And, to not just assume that the benefits outweigh the costs (financially, and environmentally).

      1. Tia Will

        Ron,

        My comment included nothing about encouraging or discouraging additional riders. It was about the safety of those riders. To take the extreme example, how much is one child not being struck and seriously injured or killed by an impatient or distracted driver worth in dollars?

        And yes, we are both talking about evidence-based decisions, not assumption based.

        1. Ron Oertel

          Tia to Ron:  “To take the extreme example, how much is one child not being struck and seriously injured or killed by an impatient or distracted driver worth in dollars?”

          Ron’s earlier comment:  If they’re being driven, there is no “safety concern”. In fact, they’re probably even safer.

          Could be that encouraging more people to ride will result in more deaths and injuries, even if safety improvements are made.

           

           

           

        2. Richard McCann

          Ron

          Could be that encouraging more people to ride will result in more deaths and injuries, even if safety improvements are made.

          The evidence is that increases driving increases pedestrian deaths. It’s not the exposure that increases the risks; its the number of vehicles due to the incompetence of the drivers.

    2. Ron Oertel

      Also – perhaps new housing that’s designed to accommodate families should not be approved for locations that are far away from schools, separated by busy streets. Subsequently encouraging expensive and disruptive changes to accommodate these developments.

      Something about the “tail wagging the dog”, again.

      1. Don Shor

        perhaps new housing that’s designed to accommodate families should not be approved for locations that are far away from schools, separated by busy streets.

        Since virtually every school in town is already surrounded by housing, I think you have just found the perfect way to block all new housing development.

        1. Bill Marshall

          Along with,

          Safety should be the primary concern each and every time.

          As nothing can be perfectly safe, that’s a “gimme” every time anything is proposed… to anyone wanting to defeat a proposal…

          “We know this will be disruptive of your lives. We know it will degrade the quality of your lives. We are sorry and will do everything possible to mitigate the harm done to you”…

          Yes, great persuasive approach… ‘honestly’… no bias there… notice the assumptions that it will be disruptive and will degrade... no bias…very honest.  Very analytical.

        2. Ron Oertel

          “Since virtually every school in town is already surrounded by housing, . . .”

          Failing to see the problem, then. 

          Are “new” problems (getting to school) caused by new developments such as Harmony or Ceasar Chavez, whose sites may have been better-suited for commercial development?

        3. Ron Oertel

          I’m not sure what those sites originally were.  But (if I’m not mistaken), neither one is particularly conducive to providing safe and easy access to local schools.  And yet, I understand that both were designed for families.

          1. David Greenwald

            “But (if I’m not mistaken), neither one is particularly conducive to providing safe and easy access to local schools.”

            You are mistaken. New Harmony is just a few blocks from Montgomery and can be traversed through residential streets and across a moderately traveled road (Lillard) with a crossing guard. It’s also not bad for getting to Harper Junior High as they can go largely via the bike/ ped freeway overpass.

            Also not sure how many residents Chavez has who are families, but I would not call that the primary use: “Cesar Chavez Plaza Permanent Supportive Housing is Yolo County’s first permanent supportive housing designed specifically for extremely low income and fixed income homeless individuals living with mental and/or physical disabilities, including chronic substance abuse. The supportive housing program provides nineteen special needs one bedroom apartments in the 52-unit complex.”

        4. Ron Oertel

          Thanks, David – I wasn’t sure. I recall that another commenter mentioned schoolchildren living on Olive, supposedly as part of the justification to build the bicycle overpass connecting Olive to the east. (So that a relative handful of children can bike to school.) I had assumed that they were living in Cesar Chavez, but perhaps it’s somewhere else along Olive.

          Another way that expensive, disruptive lane reductions can be minimized may be to close unneeded schools (rather than encouraging them to become “commuter campuses”, for those driving in from other cities).

          That’s only one of the benefits, of course.

          1. Don Shor

            Another way that expensive, disruptive lane reductions can be minimized may be to close unneeded schools

            Causing the students who are attending those schools to have to travel further to the remaining ones? There is no school in Davis that is primarily attended by “commuter” students.

        5. Craig Ross

          I know you’re in a hurry to close a school but given the other article and the potential for 6000 to 10000 new residents over the next decade, you’re call is premature and will not be heeded by anyone in power – especially anyone who doesn’t want to deal with the fallout of the proposal.

        6. Ron Oertel

          “Causing the students who are attending those schools to have to travel further to the remaining ones? There is no school in Davis that is primarily attended by “commuter” students.”

          So, we know that enrollment is declining for Davis residents.  And, we also know that there will be determined resistance against acknowledging this fact from some who work for DJUSD, as well as some parents.

          To the point that some are willing to sacrifice both the fiscal health of the city (since schools are already sucking up so much money via parcel taxes – and are still looking for more), as well as supporting sprawl. In other words, the “tail trying to wag the dog”, again. (But doing so in a way that’s actually harmful, as well.)

          My point was that perhaps retrofitting expensive, disruptive bicycle infrastructure to existing streets is not needed, if a school will be closing in the future, anyway.

          Of all the schools, which do you think is most likely to be closed, at some point? Has there been some preliminary discussion, or are all still in denial mode, regarding this?

          1. Don Shor

            My point was that perhaps retrofitting expensive, disruptive bicycle infrastructure to existing streets is not needed, if a school will be closing in the future, anyway.

            My point is that your suggestion makes literally no sense whatsoever. It would cause longer distances for a large number of students to travel to and from school.

            Of all the schools, which do you think is most likely to be closed, at some point?

            None.

            Has there been some preliminary discussion, or are all still in denial mode, regarding this?

            It’s not denial. Most people don’t expect the population of Davis to remain static.

        7. Ron Oertel

          Oh – and for those looking toward “sprawl” as the answer to Davis’ declining enrollment, you need look no farther than the Cannery – and the extremely limited number of DJUSD students it generated.

          Of course, The Cannery was built on reclaimed industrial land (and was within city limits), so it may not technically qualify as sprawl.  But, that’s the probable model, for any future developments as well.

          More likely, most families will continue looking for housing nearby, but outside of Davis.  Where there’s thousands of houses being built.  And, nothing that Davis approves will stop this from occurring.

          The planned Chiles Ranch workforce/family housing development might generate some students. But, probably not enough for the headhunters looking for more.

          At some point, folks might want to acknowledge that unless housing turns over (is resold), occupants get older and no longer attend DJUSD. Another fact (this time of “nature itself”), that some apparently want to deny.

          However, some limited turnover might occur within families (e.g., children of owners). Proposition 13 provides incentives to do so.

        8. Ron Oertel

          Ron: “My point was that perhaps retrofitting expensive, disruptive bicycle infrastructure to existing streets is not needed, if a school will be closing in the future, anyway.”
           
          Don: “My point is that your suggestion makes literally no sense whatsoever. It would cause longer distances for a large number of students to travel to and from school.”

          You’re comparing apples with oranges.

          Ron: “Of all the schools, which do you think is most likely to be closed, at some point?”
           
          Don:  “None.”

          Hence, the denial.  The day is probably coming, regardless. But, not before a lot of “the sky is falling” type comments. These comments will increasingly fall on deaf ears, as the population gets older. (See WDAAC, as well.)

           

           

           

        9. Ron Oertel

          Hey – I just noticed that “deaf ears” might be taken literally, as well.  😉

          It will be interesting to see who “replaces” the current population of Davis, over time. (Notwithstanding WDAAC, of course – given its minimum age requirements.)

        10. Craig Ross

          Ron wrote: “we know that enrollment is declining for Davis residents.”

          What we don’t know is whether that trend will continue especially if we add 6 to 10 thousand additional residents in the next decade.

        11. Ron Oertel

          “After predicting stable enrollment in the Davis district for years in a row, Torlucci forecasts a slow, gradual decline in school enrollment over the decade to come.”

          “Resident enrollment has declined in nine of the last 13 years,” Torlucci said, adding that the local birthrate in 2017 (the most recent year for which statistics are complete) was the lowest local birthrate in 17 years (just 475 births … where back in 2006 there were more than 600 births).”

           

          Torlucci — who prepares enrollment projections for school districts in nine different states — said that Davis is by no means the only California district looking at a likely drop in the number of resident students. “Your trend is seen across the state … in the Bay Area, and in Southern California. Birthrates are down, and the price of housing (is high).”

          https://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/new-projections-forecast-slow-decline-school-enrollment-as-local-birth-rate-continues-to-drop/

          1. Don Shor

            Enrollment in Davis increased when Mace Ranch and Wildhorse were built, to the point that the schools were overcrowded and the school district added two elementary schools and one new junior high school. Then major housing slowed and enrollment flattened. In the absence of a new subdivision, it is likely the enrollment would stay flat. If the city adds housing, it will increase.
            I am very familiar with their projection process. It is accurate with respect to the current rate of single-family housing growth. It is not accurate if single-family housing growth increases.

        12. Ron Oertel

          David:  As you’ve noted, it’s all speculation.

          Regardless, one need look no further than The Cannery, to see how few children it added to DJUSD.

          Young people are putting off having kids (and are having fewer of them when they do). Some of this is discussed in the article I posted a link to.

          It’s “good news”, except for those who want to deny reality, and/or continue to engage in a Ponzi-like, never-ending development scheme indefinitely, for the sake of local schools.

          Seriously, has there been any consideration regarding which school might be closed, should the need arise? (For example, if out-of-district enrollment demand decreases?)

          It must have come up in some fashion, during DJUSD meetings. Or, is it kind of like the “elephant in the room”, that no one wants to acknowledge?

        13. Ron Oertel

          Don:  “In the absence of a new subdivision, it is likely the enrollment would stay flat.”

          Not according to the analyst in the article I posted a link to. He’s predicting a decline.

          Also, there’s this (from the district’s chief budget officer):

          “Back around 2000, “the yield rates were basically double they are now. Back then it was (nearly) 2 students per house, and our schools were bursting at the seams. Now it’s (fallen to)close to 1 student per house.”

          https://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/new-projections-forecast-slow-decline-school-enrollment-as-local-birth-rate-continues-to-drop/

          Have to admit that I kind of enjoy pointing out these realities, as I think that some care more about schools than they do about the city itself, sprawl, preservation of farmland, etc. And yet, they rarely admit that. They’re also “natural allies” of developers and their friends – something which took me awhile to realize.

          1. Don Shor

            He added many of today’s homeowners whose kids have grown up “are staying in their empty-nester homes longer, so there’s not as much real estate on the market And the kind of housing that facilitates families is not being built,”

        14. Ron Oertel

          Yes, Don – with the implication in that statement that it’s not in demand, either.

          The statement appeared to be addressing the trend at a broader level.

          In the case of Davis, families who desire “traditional” housing are primarily being accommodated in Woodland and other nearby communities (where literally thousands of houses have recently been built, with thousands more on the horizon).  You’ve pointed this out, yourself. Nothing that Davis does will change this.

          At some point, a recession will at least slow down the pace of construction, though.

          Again, The Cannery yielded very few DJUSD students.  Perhaps Chiles Ranch will yield a few more.

           

          1. Don Shor

            families who desire “traditional” housing are primarily being accommodated in Woodland and other nearby communities

            Because the housing they want is not being built in Davis.

            Nothing that Davis does will change this.

            Unless the housing they want gets built here.

        15. Ron Oertel

          Because the housing they want is not being built in Davis.

          (At a price that Davis cannot match.  And hasn’t, even before Measure J/R.)

          Unless the housing they want gets built here.

          Same response, but would also note that the “type” of housing in Davis is also different.  The days of Mace Ranch and Wildhorse are over, and would be prohibitively expensive if it was attempted.  Even back in the day, they were far more expensive than surrounding communities.  Everything has moved up significantly in price, since then.  (Even surrounding communities.)

          There’s reasons why The Cannery didn’t add students – it’s expensive, crowded, difficult to access, and lacks adequate yards.  But much of the housing itself is of the type that would normally appeal to young families – and which can be found nearby at a more moderate price.

          And yet, the Cannery is positively “luxurious”, compared to anything built in Davis that young families could actually afford to buy, on their own.

          Someday, I would expect those surrounding communities to literally and figuratively mature, as Davis has. But not for awhile.

          1. Don Shor

            Davis builders don’t need to try and match the prices of surrounding markets. But there is no land available for single-family homes of the type that people want without annexation.

            But much of the housing itself is of the type that would normally appeal to young families

            I see no evidence that the Cannery is the type of housing that young families want. That is how it was presented when it was proposed, and many of us disagreed then. From what I’ve seen, it is not really a family-oriented development.
            If you want affordable housing, workforce housing for median-income people, and family housing, it will be necessary to annex land and develop it in the traditional manner. That’s the only way everyone is going to get what they want in terms of percentages of housing for different income groups, and a younger and more diverse demographic in Davis. Infill and housing developments like the Cannery are not going to get you there.

        16. Ron Oertel

          Don:  Seems like you’re now denying what you’ve previously noted, yourself.

          Anything that is built in Davis is going to be more expensive, and has been (even before Measure J/R). This would not “change” as a result of a peripheral development. Again, The Cannery did not cause a drop in housing prices.

          The Cannery is probably similar to anything that would be proposed on the periphery of Davis.  It has a range of housing – including townhouses and apartments. It would be delusional to think that a developer would suddenly offer “low prices” at a peripheral development – especially for the type of housing that would appeal to families with children.

          Housing costs have risen faster than wages.  Therefore, what was once in reach (in Davis) for young families is no longer within reach.  The same thing occurred in the Bay Area, but at a much more extreme level.  At one time (not so long ago), “normal” families were able to purchase homes in San Francisco, itself.

          As housing costs rise, young families in particular move to where they can afford to get what they want, if it’s available.  And in the case of Davis, it’s “available” about 7 miles away.  (This isn’t the case in the Bay Area, where costs have risen to a prohibitive level throughout the area.)

        17. Ron Oertel

          But it is entirely possible that as the region becomes more like the Bay Area and Los Angeles, “everything” (all locations) will become prohibitively expensive.

          And miserable, to boot.  All the sprawl, but none of the beauty or weather.

        18. Ron Oertel

          Now that I think about it, I recall when the luxury/semi-custom homes on large lots (just north of El Macero) were new – about 20 years ago.  And yet, I believe they were priced less than many of the new track homes in surrounding communities, today.

          Much of Sacramento ain’t exactly cheap anymore, either.

          I wish I could go back in time. (But, I’d probably start with the Bay Area.)

        19. Craig Ross

          “Seriously, has there been any consideration regarding which school might be closed, should the need arise?”

          The school board rejected outright the idea of closing a school.

        20. Craig Ross

          “But it is entirely possible that as the region becomes more like the Bay Area and Los Angeles, “everything” (all locations) will become prohibitively expensive”

          Yeah if they don’t add housing.  That’s what they’re trying to avoid.  The advantage is that unlike a lot of the expensive Bay Area cities, the valley isn’t locked into the current size.  Cities have space to grow outward.  That can’t be said for places like SF, Berkeley, Palo Alto and others.

      2. Richard McCann

        Ron

        You’re just grasping for straws to oppose new developments. Every decision requires a trade off, including access to schools. And you have too narrowly defined the purpose of new infrastructure. A new bridge from Olive Lane would increase access for that community to the retail sites in downtown and reduce vehicle congestion both through Richards tunnel and competition for parking. You repeatedly fail to look at these issues holistically.

        1. Craig Ross

          Every position Ron takes is based on a calculation of preventing new housing.  It’s ironic since he infers in others that other position they take (if they disagree with him) is related to building more housing.

    3. Ron Oertel

      (I realize that part of the “benefit” side of the equation would include those who already bike in the area, both students and non-students.) But again, some of that might be a result of earlier development decisions – as noted in my comment above.

    4. Bill Marshall

      Oh, and other than exceptions I’ve noted, I agree with Tia in concept, but am opposed to a renewal of Measure J/R… certainly, in its current form, where a proposal has to get down to ‘gnat’s ass detail’ and have all discretionary approvals in place before it comes to a vote… if it got modified to focus on whether land should be annexed or not, with simple pros and cons, early in the process, I could favor that… but as it stands now, it is an ‘abortion’… meant to execute “late-term” (or, “partial birth”) abortions of a project.

      Measure R needs to be seriously modified, or allowed to ‘sunset’.   IMNSHO…

  6. Tia Will

    Bill,

    1. that’s a “gimme” every time anything is proposed… to anyone wanting to defeat a proposal

    This is a possibility as written. It does not change the fact that the design of our roads was initially intended and largely remains, despite all good faith efforts, largely to facilitate the movement of cars over other means of transportation.

    2. With regard to the negative impact on lives of those most proximate to a major development or disproportionate in size structure, do you deny that changes in traffic, in noise, in congestion will negatively affect those in closest proximity? Really? Seems pretty objective to me.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Tia…

      I agree that transit and other non-MV transportation modes should be favored… no disagreement there, but an acknowledgement that some trips will be MV (and often single occupant) would be nice… many want a MV-free environment… fine as to their choice/needs, not so much when they want to impose that on most others… and, historically, the widths of roadway rights of way, particularly downtown, preceded the real advent of MV’s.  And even with the advent of MV use, Model T’s, Model A’s were much slimmer than SUV’s, and somewhat narrower/same than a horse-drawn carriage or truck.

      As to impacts, nearly every residence/business site in town had the situation where when they were developed,

      that changes in traffic, in noise, in congestion will negatively affect those in closest proximity? Really? Seems pretty objective to me.

      Why are we in 2019 different than those in say, the 1940’s, ’50’s?  Are we more special?  Seems pretty objective to me… we aren’t.  Really.

      Maybe one of the theses of the article is that boomers/gen X believe they are “more special”… Orwell wrote about that kind of thing in “Animal Farm”… along the lines of ‘all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others’… you see the same mentality as it regards immigration… or folk looking to come to Davis for jobs, schools, quality of life, etc.

      1. Tia Will

        Why are we in 2019 different than those in say, the 1940’s, ’50’s?  Are we more special? ” Not more special, but we do have the advantage of learning from the mistakes of those decades in which we made deliberate decisions favoring the private automobile without considering the possible destructive effects of this technology.

      2. Ron Oertel

        “Why are we in 2019 different than those in say, the 1940’s, ’50’s?”

        There’s a LOT more of us, using much of the same space/infrastructure that existed back then.

        Seems like we’re conducting an experiment, to see how much the earth will take.  But prior to that point, quality of life degrades.

        There is nothing fundamentally different between generations.  People are people.  Each generation comes along, and thinks they know better than the prior generation. (Boomers were definitely in that camp, perhaps until Tom Brokaw wrote that “greatest generation” book.)

        And truth be told, there is no “greatest generation”. Each generation has essentially the same cast of characters – only more of them.

        There were some early pioneers who were concerned about the environment, back when there were a lot fewer people.

  7. Matt Williams

    “We are seeing this in Davis.  The battle over Mace Blvd. for example has often seemed to be a group of angry, older, relatively well-off people who are arguing against changes to the roadway.”

    If you look closer at the Mace Blvd. protest, your analogy gets very shaky.  The “angry, older, relatively well-off people” are arguing against the City Staff’s and Bicycle community’s attempt to convert Mace from a high-volume, 40 MPH, major-arterial, through-street down to a low-volume, 20-25 MPH, neighborhood-oriented, collector-street.  As Police Chief Darren Pytel clearly stated on Wednesday evening at Pioneer, reducing speed through active police enforcement does not reduce speed in any measurable way; however, reducing speed through engineering and design actually does reduce speed.  As a result, staff and the design team engineered/designed a solution that reduced the number of through vehicle lanes down from four to two (down from two each direction to one each direction … plus turning lanes like the ones currently on 5th Street between G and B).

    One of the byproducts of the reduction of northbound Mace to one lane is that the future housing development potential for the 250 acres south of Montgomery and west of Mace is substantially reduced.

    In addition, one of the audience suggestions from the “angry, older, relatively well-off people” on Wednesday night was to have Yolo County build a “ring road” that connects Mace south of Montgomery to Chiles at the Yolo Fruit Stand.  Given the fact that Angelo Tsakopoulos owns over 3,000 acres along that ring road route (shown in yellow in the graphic below), such a ring road would increase the housing potential of the Southeast Quadrant (a 2007 Housing Element Steering Committee term) substantially.

    Bottom-line, the Mace protests are a horse of a different color.  Probably still a horse, but definitely a different color.

    https://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Tsakopoulos-Land-2015.jpg

    1. Bill Marshall

      Matt… color that horse blue, for water… pretty much all the land is Zone A, as to 100 year (much less proposed 200 year standards) as to FEMA Flood Maps.

      You know this, and I know you know, I know this…

      The peripheral “ring road” concept is flawed for many reasons, and ‘growth inducing potential’ is like sixth on the list… maybe as much as eighth…

      Would take a pipe, using a local dispensary or a meth lab for ‘fuel’, to think that would be a happening thing… at least in the next 50 years…

      But, will probably have its proponents, who use such pipes…

    2. Ron Oertel

      One of the byproducts of the reduction of northbound Mace to one lane is that the future housing development potential for the 250 acres south of Montgomery and west of Mace is substantially reduced.

      I’m “suddenly a fan” of the reduction.  Hopefully, it will “do in” MRIC, as well.

      1. Matt Williams

        The issues south of I-80 on Mace really have no impact on the parcels north of Mace (where ARC/MRIC is), because they are almost all northbound rather than southbound, and those northbound issues dissipate at the eastbound I-80 on-ramp because the overwhelming majority of the northbound vehicles are getting on I-80 eastbound at that point.

        1. Ron Oertel

          They are using the same on/off ramps (and frontage roads) as MRIC would. From what I’ve heard, traffic is not “dissipating” at those bottlenecks. The freeway itself is beyond capacity, quite often.

          And then, there’s the unpredictable results from cell phone apps, redirecting traffic.

          Also regarding all being “northbound”, are you suggesting they never drive back to their point of origin? If so, then perhaps the traffic problem would be “solved”. 😉

        2. Matt Williams

          Ron, a vehicle proceeding southbound on Mace uses a different ramp to get on I-80 eastbound than a vehicle proceeding northbound on Mace uses.  The ramp for the southbound vehicle is on the west side of Mace.   The ramp for the northbound vehicle is on the east side of Mace.  There is a raised and planted median strip between them.

          The vehicles proceeding northbound on Mace during the congested times are a mix of (1) Waze directed traffic that has exited I-80 at Pedrick Road, come across Tremont Road, and then turned north on Mace.  To answer your question, yes, those vehicles never drive back to their point of origin over the same Mace-Tremont-Pedrick route. and (2) local Davis cars that are headed to eastbound I-80.  Some of those vehicles do drive back to their point of origin in Davis after their business in Sacramento (or beyond) is completed, but their return is rarely (if ever) during the same period of time of their northbound departure.

          Group (1) vehicles dissipate 100%.  Group (2) vehicles dissipate 100%.  There are some Group (3) local vehicles who are headed to the westbound on ramp of I-80. Group (3) dissipates 100% at the top of the Mace Overpass.  There are also some Group (4) local vehicles that are headed to Davis locations.  For the moment those vehicles do not dissipate, but rather proceed over the Mace Overpass and either turn at the 2nd Street Traffic Light (by Ikedas) or proceed straight through that light.  However, the inventory of those Group (4) vehicles diminishes down to close to nothing during the late afternoon periods of maximum congestion.  Instead of fighting the traffic, those vehicles reroute to either the Pole Line Overpass or the Richards Blvd. Overpass.

          So, with very few exceptions all the northbound Mace vehicles during the maximum periods of congestion are dissipated on , or before, the Mace Overpass and its component ramps to I-80.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Ron, a vehicle proceeding southbound on Mace uses a different ramp to get on I-80 eastbound than a vehicle proceeding northbound on Mace uses.  The ramp for the southbound vehicle is on the west side of Mace.   The ramp for the northbound vehicle is on the east side of Mace.

          Yes – I recall that.  However, I also understand that traffic from both directions often bypasses these entrances entirely, and use the freeway access point near Yolo Fruit Stand.  My computer isn’t working too well (so I’m not going to look it up again), but I believe that the link to the Enterprise article I posted above discusses that bottleneck. Traffic from MRIC would also use that same access point.

          The vehicles proceeding northbound on Mace during the congested times are a mix of (1) Waze directed traffic that has exited I-80 at Pedrick Road, come across Tremont Road, and then turned north on Mace.  To answer your question, yes, those vehicles never drive back to their point of origin over the same Mace-Tremont-Pedrick route. and (2) local Davis cars that are headed to eastbound I-80.  .

          Regarding WAZE, that sounds accurate.  Although it’s increasingly unpredictable regarding routes that such applications will recommend (including return trips).

          Some of those vehicles do drive back to their point of origin in Davis after their business in Sacramento (or beyond) is completed, but their return is rarely (if ever) during the same period of time of their northbound departure.

          I’m not sure what this means, or its applicability.  But, those returning from Sacramento to Davis (or from the West) would use the same exits as MRIC, from I-80.

          Group (1) vehicles dissipate 100%.  Group (2) vehicles dissipate 100%.  There are some Group (3) local vehicles who are headed to the westbound on ramp of I-80. Group (3) dissipates 100% at the top of the Mace Overpass.  There are also some Group (4) local vehicles that are headed to Davis locations. 

          I’m not sure what these statements refer to, but traffic is not consistently “dissipating”.  If it was, there would be no concerns regarding the “Mace Mess”.

          For the moment those vehicles do not dissipate, but rather proceed over the Mace Overpass and either turn at the 2nd Street Traffic Light (by Ikedas) or proceed straight through that light.  However, the inventory of those Group (4) vehicles diminishes down to close to nothing during the late afternoon periods of maximum congestion.  Instead of fighting the traffic, those vehicles reroute to either the Pole Line Overpass or the Richards Blvd. Overpass.

          Not sure what this has to do with the topic either, but this traffic would absolutely be impacted by MRIC.

          So, with very few exceptions all the northbound Mace vehicles during the maximum periods of congestion are dissipated on , or before, the Mace Overpass and its component ramps to I-80.

          Again, neighbors in that area are making statements which do not support this conclusion.

          Also, MRIC would impact the freeway, itself.  Once that occurs, it impacts ALL entry and exit points.  “All bets are off” when this occurs (which is happening more and more often, and for longer periods of time).

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

        4. Ron Oertel

          Matt:  If you do choose to respond, please also address Westbound traffic (from both MRIC, and from the “Mace Mess” side).  Note that up to 850 residences will be proposed at MRIC, with commuters and other traffic from that development going in different directions.

          Traffic flow is a complex subject, not likely to be accurately responded to via comments on a blog. Especially by those without professional expertise. 

          Even traffic engineers struggle with this.  (For example, I assume that a traffic engineer was involved at some point, regarding the Mace Mess.)

          I wouldn’t be surprised if conclusions in the EIR are challenged, as well. Especially as more time goes by, and conditions change.

          Of course, our comments have barely touched upon the subject, and are only limited to the interaction with the Mace Mess, so far.

        5. Richard McCann

          I wouldn’t be surprised if conclusions in the EIR are challenged, as well. Especially as more time goes by, and conditions change.

          Traffic congestion is no longer an issue addressed in an EIR with the new CEQA guidelines. This has been replaced with changes in VMT.

    3. Bill Marshall

      One of the byproducts of the reduction of northbound Mace to one lane is that the future housing development potential for the 250 acres south of Montgomery and west of Mace is substantially reduced.

      Not really… the right of way exists, so then just a matter of costs of expansion/re-do of striping/islands… depends what you mean by “substantially”…

      And, even without that, the concept of LOS C/D is not written on stone tablets from a mountain in the mid-east… thousands of years ago…

      Am not supporting further development @ where you cite, but reality is CR 104/Mace could have much greater demands from development in Dixon, or other new areas in Solano County… and south of Montgomery, CR 104/Mace is a YC road, and past the S fork of Putah Creek, is in Solano County.

      1. Matt Williams

        Bill, to paraphrase one of your Friday morning comments, you are seeing through a glass narrowly.  Additional construction cost is indeed part of the picture, but I suspect that cost would be small compared to the cost of getting the changes to the right of way approved.  In the now-in-place, one lane each direction configuration, the bicycle community has realized a milestone that is very important to them, the two-way cycle track on Mace.  A developer looking to use the full 93 foot right of way (85′ in the City and 8′ in the County) for motor vehicles would encounter substantial political resistance.  The cost of overcoming that resistance would dwarf the construction costs.

        Even more important that the dollars and cents would be the marked increase in uncertainty.  As we have heard in the dialogue about Measure J/R, land development investors do not like risk, especially when the likelihood of success in mitigating that risk is high.

        JMO

  8. Alan Miller

    Traffic flow is a complex subject, not likely to be accurately responded to via comments on a blog. Especially by those without professional expertise.

    I just wanted to repeat that statement.

        1. David Greenwald

          In the end, modeling of this sort is projecting estimates. However, as you will see shortly, traffic is going to be one of the big issues.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for