At the State of the City meeting back in February, the Mayor and City manager were excited to show the progress of the Green at West Village. UC Davis is hopeful of being able to open up to 3290 beds – 1000 in the fall and the remainder by 2021.
But despite some hopeful developments – agreement on an MOU, the building of 9050 beds on campus, progress has been slow and the impacts are unclear.
By 2030-31, UC Davis will be adding those 9050 beds on campus but at the same time, projecting to add another 5175 students projecting their enrollment to be 39,000 by that year over the LRDP base year which was 2016-17 – although already there are 35 to 36 thousand students expected to be enrolled.
By 2025, they expect about 6180 additional beds – half of which will be at West Village and another 1400 at Orchard Park.
An additional 2870 beds are planned between 2025 and 2030 these include 1470 at Solano Gateway Housing and then small additions at Segundo, Tercero, and housing for West Village faculty and staff (which are not including in student housing numbers).
At the end of the day, questions remain here. In town, so far we have approved about 3888 beds. Of those, only Sterling appears likely to open in 2020. The others have not been built yet, although ground will be laid at Lincoln40 shortly (it will have a name change at some point here). Nishi and its 2200 beds remain the subject of litigation.
As we have noted the strategy for housing has been centered around the idea of putting more housing on the UC Davis campus. The problem with that strategy as we noted in a commentary last week and in light of the UC Santa Cruz strikes and terminations, has been to pressure UC Davis to put more housing on campus.
But a key question here is whether that strategy will result in the type of affordability that many students are going to need.
To put it simply – on-campus housing for the most part has been more expensive than off-campus housing. There are lots of debates over how that could be.
For students in the residence halls, the answer is really simple. There are two significant added costs: those in residence halls have “live-in residence advisors, custodial services, social and academic programs, and provide students with access to our dining commons.”
A large added cost is in fact the dining service. More and more, apartments across town are putting utilities and amenities into the cost of rent – that means that students are provided with things like cable, internet, electricity, water, and garbage without having to make additional payments. But they end up paying a lot more for food on-campus where they have to use the dining commons rather than on their own where some pay as little as $20 to $25 a week for food (and sometimes less if they qualify for the food pantry, for instance).
Matt Dulcich from UC Davis told the Vanguard this week: “Our on-campus housing such as Solano Park, Russell Park, Atriums, Primero Grove, The Colleges at La Rue and 8th & Wake all have rents that are currently below the averages in the Davis market.”
When we spoke to students about this, they were more skeptical about how that was calculated pointing out that they could split costs for rooms and housing for a good deal less in town whereas the cost for sharing rooms or even tripling up on rooms on-campus produced far less in the way of savings.
Mr. Dulcich did address another question we had. Initially we had reports that West Village was running at rates of vacancy approaching 17 percent. We were told however at that time, that this was an artifact of maintenance and not reflective of lack of demand.
Mr. Dulcich reports: “As of Oct. 1 2019, we housed 10,321 students on campus compared to 10,590 available beds, a vacancy rate of 2.5 percent.”
That’s of course much higher still than the city of Davis vacancy rate, but probably not so high as to be alarming.
Mr. Dulcich further noted: “we are in the midst of the most ambitious housing plan in the history of UC Davis. We are fully committed to our MOU with the City of Davis and Yolo County and are tracking to meet all targeted bed numbers. More beds provide more options for students and will improve the vacancy rate on campus and in the city of Davis.”
Still it seems that it might be advantageous for the community and students to monitor things like: rents on-campus and what those rents actually purchase, vacancy rate, and available beds.
Lawsuits against housing have not served either the community as a whole or students in particular very well. The lawsuit delayed Lincoln40 by up to two years and Lincoln40 was fortunate that the litigants missed a deadline or they would probably be delayed another year.
Nishi was not so fortunate and remains locked into litigation. This has produced ongoing frustration on the part of students, who last month, issued a rather terse statement.
—David M. Greenwald reporting