Commentary: Illustrating Why Davis Needs Jobs

One of the key questions that the economic development project, formerly known as Aggie Research Campus (ARC) and now renamed Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus (DISC), has to address is the housing-jobs balance.

This has been a concern of ours that has been raised on this site since at least 2014 and 2015.  A huge number of people leave the city each morning to work in Sacramento and the Bay Area.  Another huge number of people drive into Davis—some to work in the city and others to work at UC Davis.

There are those who worry that adding jobs to Davis could exacerbate that problem.  The SEIR, for example, notes that while DISC provide 850 units of housing, there would be generated over the course of the buildout of that project over two to three decades—if not more—a need for 1200 additional units in town with 1700 or so units of housing leaving the town each morning.

In our interview with Dan Ramos, he pointed to this imbalance and argued that some of those people may already be living in Davis and, instead of continuing to commute out of town for work, they can have high paying jobs in town.

Ramos argued that “hopefully it will be an employment center for some of the existing people that live in Davis who commute out of Davis.”

Right now, if you don’t work at the university or a few companies around town, for high quality jobs you are headed out of town to Sacramento, Roseville or even all the way to the Bay Area.

“Hopefully we can help provide some job opportunities for some of the people who are commuting out of town right now,” he said.  “Those jobs aren’t (in Davis) so they’re commuting away.”

To illustrate just how few jobs there actually are in the city of Davis, we looked at the 2018 Downtown Specific Plan Existing Conditions report which was generated in conjunction with that study.

According to the US Census there were, in 2015, 31,648 total employees in the City of Davis.  Of those, 18,959 leave the City for other job locations while 9003 come into Davis to work.

This leaves a remarkable 3686 people who both live and work in the city of Davis.

There are caveats to this data.  This does not include UC Davis.  That means some of those 18,000 who leave town are simply going to work at UC Davis.

But the point that we have raised for several years now remains.  There is a lack of jobs unless you work at the university.  Very few people live in town and work in town.

By creating economic development it serves a bunch of purposes—one of which would be to create jobs in town for people in the private sector, not associated with the university.

We can see the lack of diversity of jobs here.  This chart actually combines the city and UC Davis to give us a flavor of who is hiring.

Note that UC Davis is the biggest engine by far—followed by DJUSD, Sutter Davis, the City of Davis, Unitrans, Nugget and Safeway, then URC, Courtyard Healthcare, and Davis Food Co-Op.

Three of the top four are government jobs.  You then have three health-related, three grocery-related and Unitrans—which primarily hires low wage student employees.

To make it more stark, the total number of jobs in Davis is just under 36,000 in 2019.  That means those top ten businesses employ 78 percent of the people who work in Davis.

Kellie Bruton with the city noted, “The labor statistics show us the service type, businesses hospitals, convalescent, Unitrans and Nugget supermarket are increasing their workforce, whereas retail Target and government employment have taken significant drops to their workforce.”

She said the only exception is the school district, because they increased their workforce.

She added, “The interesting thing I see in this report is with Nugget moving their headquarters to Davis they will soon move into the top 5 employers in Davis.”

The EPS report noted that the DISC project “is forecasted to produce 5,000 new jobs with employee compensation of $500 million at project buildout. The City of Davis and Yolo County would experience economic spinoff from the onsite employment as businesses elsewhere in the County respond to the ongoing business, employee and household spending generated by the project.”

EPS added that “a larger, more diversified regional economy will have a greater multiplier effect because it can capture more of the spin-off economic activity.”

EPS thus writes: “The City will experience some economic spinoff of that direct employment, but a much greater spinoff impact will occur in other parts of the County as businesses elsewhere in the County respond to the ongoing business, employee, and household spending generated by the Project.”

The total county employment, including the direct onsite employment and indirect and induced employment, figures to come to 9000 annually at buildout—with total compensation between $600 and $700 million.

This is the job picture that Davis has and why a lot of people believe that bringing in high paying, high-tech jobs would be beneficial in diversifying Davis’ economy.

—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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    1. Alan Pryor

      By adding housing.

      No. Do the math. The only way to improve the jobs/housing ration (i.e move it closer to 1.0) is by increasing housing units relative to jobs. The proposed business park formerly known as ARC does exactly the opposite. It provides more jobs than housing thereby worsening the jobs housing ratio in the City. This is exactly the opposite of what SACOG is recommending to reduce the number of commuters coming in to Davis.


      1. Matt Williams

        According to a March 2017 analysis by nonprofit Silicon Valley at Home, Palo Alto had a jobs-housing ratio of 3.54 jobs for every housing unit.

        Just to add some context to the discussion.

      2. Doby Fleeman

        Sounds like maybe SACOG needs to go back to the drawing boards to reassess the overall regional impact of UC Davis and its global effect on our region’s and the state’s economy.   For the past century, it has been the one shining light, the stalwart leader of the regions thriving economy.

        By situating and concentrating its physical presence in the Davis community (not the City of Davis) certain inevitable results are to (or should have been) be expected.  The first result is growth (particularly housing) to support the mission of the university – and Davis has performed a yeoman’s job on that count.  But now we’ve hit our urban boundary limits last set in the middle of the past century.   You call that regional planning?

        No comparable state spending on alternative transit solutions to address the inevitable consequences of sustained enrollment and residential growth necessary to support the mission?  Your call that regional planning?

        No accomodations made to the City of Davis – to assist or supplement its fiscal revenue model (knowing the University campus was located in a competing tax jurisdiction) – even as regional planners could see the impending fiscal consequences of a university host community with no plans to develop a balanced commercial sector?  You call that regional planning?

        Sure, its easy to play Monday morning quarterback, but that’s not the point here.  Truth is, we have now hit an inflection point, and it’s time for the  State, University Board of Regents, SACOG, and the County to take a long, overdue look at our City’s long terms plans for a fiscally resilient and environmentally sustainable City of Davis.

        Today may be the worst of time thanks to circumstances beyond our control, but tomorrow could be the start of the best of times for the university, our city, our county, our region and the state.  All I’m suggesting is that we be honest with ourselves as we go about planning for the future.

      3. Keith Echols

        The problem is that private development will never solve the housing imbalance.  It is in private development’s interest to constrain supply to the point for optimal finanical return.  It’s also in the existing homeowner’s intrest for homebuilders to keep prices high as well.

        Put simply if a builder (or builders) are sitting on entitled land to build out.  They’re not going to build out as fast as possible and flood the market with units.  During the 2008 Great Recesion; builders (and land companies) were sitting on 1000’s of lots called “shadow inventory” for years until the time came when jobs caught up again and they could build out for maximium return.

  1. Doby Fleeman

    If the only issue of significance to the City and community were its VMT, our challenges would be vastly more simple to address and resolve.

    Unfortunately, the complexity of the problem is far deeper and more complicated in its dynamics.

    Does Davis want to become a sustainable community or not – that truly is the question.  Davis is a distinct cultural and and economic entity.   We cannot separate one from the other.   If Davis, the city and its community, is to become truly sustainable over the long term – it will need to come to grips with the realities of how economic activity and associated taxes are generated and how they – together – circulate within the city to keep accounts in balance.

    Sorry this is seems so mundane – compared with our greater missions of feeding the planet and achieving zero net energy – but its just as real.  Particularly if your job is trying to run the city and maintain the many essential services we take daily for granted.

    When viewed in this holistic context – there clearly exists a non-sustainable jobs/housing imbalance WITHIN THE CITY OF DAVIS.   It’s this jurisdictional distinction which many would prefer to disregard – but the reality is that’s how economics work (cash circulating within the economic unit of City of Davis) and that’s how tax revenues (property and sales taxes) are generated within and on behalf of the CITY OF DAVIS.

    The contrasts could not be more clear – if we were but to compare our local “City of Davis” jobs census with any of our peer, university host communities.   Why this comparison has not been done and brought to the fore – before now is difficult to explain or understand.   This article is extremely revealing and together with peer statistics from other desirable, university host communities, might help to better explain the unique challenges being faced by the City of Davis as its pursues its long term goals of fiscal and environmental sustainability.







  2. Alan Pryor

    The City will experience some economic spinoff of that direct employment, but a much greater spinoff impact will occur in other parts of the County as businesses elsewhere in the County respond to the ongoing business, employee, and household spending generated by the Project.” (bold emphasis added)

    So why not let the business instead flock to the proposed Woodland Innovation and Sustainability Center (WISC – my new chosen name for their project). They can have the 24,000 trips per day to tie up their local streets in gridlock and Davis can reap the greater economic spinoff impact.

    But this may all be moot or illusory because economic spinoff requires that a business park actually be built. WISC is still floundering because it has not signed up any business park tenants after years of trying

    1. David Greenwald

      For starters you would then lose the city revenue from the project. That would be a big problem. Also without DISC, it would be questionable how much spinoff potential there would be in Davis since there is limited commercial space to spinoff.

      1. Alan Pryor

        For starters you would then lose the city revenue from the project. That would be a big problem. Also without DISC, it would be questionable how much spinoff potential there would be in Davis since there is limited commercial space to spinoff.

        Two problems with your comment –

        1) The promised “city revenue” is based on the rosiest sets of assumptions we have ever seen from EPS for a city project. a) The EPS report assumes grossly inflated office rents/leases (i.e. $2.92/sq ft/mo) which is far in excess of regional average office rent/lease values ($2.15/sq ft) which 36% increase justify inflated land and building values which justify inflated property tax revenues. b) The EPS report assumes retail sales revenues/sq ft (i.e far in excess of regional values which justifies increased sales which justifies increased sales tax revenues. c) The EPS report minimizes potential costs to the city by estimating reduced costs per employee generated by ARC and residents at ARC compared to city averages. d) The EPS report ignores the tens of millions of dollars of road construction/modification costs the city will bear to try to mitigate the enormous and unsustainable gridlock that will result from 24,000 trips per day to and from the site.

        2) How about developing the commercial space in the revitalized downtown as envisioned in the near finalized Downtown Davis Plan. If ARC goes in it may very well cannibalize exising AND new business and commercial development that might otherwise occur in a sustainably developed downtown. Go back to the Joe Minicozi seminars series to see the benefits of core redevelopment instead of peripheral sprawl. The ARC proposal seemingly ignores every lesson that he tried to teach us.

        1. Richard McCann


          Yes, developing the Downtown core commercial space would be the best option (although it probably can’t house advanced manufacturing facilities). The key question there is whether our current City staff and Council leadership is capable of pursuing the coordinated economic development strategy required to pull that off. It will also require the Downtown commercial space owners to be visionary in redeveloping their buildings, and Downtown business owners looking beyond their myopic interests. Unfortunately I have my doubts at the moment…

        2. Keith Echols


          1.  Yes the “DISC” project is an overly convluted clunker of a project.  But generating revenue is the goal.  More streamlined projects are far more likely to be succesful and keep the costs down which keep rent costs down.  Lower rent costs are what attract small expanding businesses; not silly sustainability stuff (which just add to costs and rent) and an attached housing project (a nearby housing project isn’t a bad idea but it should be developed and implemented separately from the business park(s).

          2. Downtown is not suitable for much of the business that needs to expand into places like DISC or ARC..or whatever as they tend to have needs beyond simple office space…physical tenant improvements and equipment that can’t be as easily done in most office space downtown (or built downtown) as opposed to newer Class B and C business parks.  And again the goal is to attract business and forcing these businesses to go downtown (if you could accomodate their needs) will add to their costs/rents….which is what they tend to avoid.  Downtown is better left to perepherial related businesses that grow as these business park companies come in.  Downtown then gets new small law offices, accountants, financial advisers….to service some of these businesses and their employees.

    2. Ron Oertel

      “WISC (the Woodland business park proposal, which moved from Davis after failing there) is still floundering because it has not signed up any business park tenants after years of trying.”

      So you’re stating that despite moving to a community 7 miles away – via easy freeway access, and has no Measure R, it’s still struggling to get off the ground?

      Gee, what implications might be drawn from that?

      (I added the text in parentheses, for clarity.)


  3. Ron Glick

    Call me a simpleton if you wish but I find all this social engineering to be excessive. First of all the data are skewed and of little value because UC Davis isn’t part of the city. Rik, is likely using more valuable data, vehicle miles traveled or commute times.

    More importantly though, people decide to live places for any number of reasons. We live in a region that had a thriving pre-covid economy, and hopefully that will continue in the future once the current crisis has passed. Instead of fretting about where the jobs are and where the houses are we would be better off if we let market forces guide, for the most part, these decisions. If people want to live here we should increase the housing supply. If people want to bring businesses here and offer jobs we should be grateful and facilitate those companies. Everyone wants to make this harder than it has to be and of course Measure R only complicates things further.

    1. Matt Williams

      We live in a region that had a thriving pre-covid economy

      Ron, when you look at the Davis economy (not purely within the City Limits, but rather the Davis community including UCD and Patwin and El Macero and Willowbank and North Davis Meadows), do you really think that regional community had a thriving pre-covid economy?  The non-discretionary consumables market segment led by grocery stores is indeed thriving, but what other market segment in our community is thriving.  Restaurants are numerous, but far from thriving.  Retail is anemic at best … and shrinking.  Cannabis is an exception that is indeed thriving.  What other parts of the Davis community economy are thriving?

      1. Keith Echols



        But other than that you’re right.  Davis doesn’t have much else in terms of major economic output/jobs outside of the University.

      2. Ron Glick

        Rent has been  an excellent and growing business, and real estate too. Public sector opportunities for work at state, county, cities and education jurisdictions are plentiful throughout the region. Billions of dollars a year come into this community through UCD. Agriculture is still a huge generator of wealth here as is biotech, seeds and other bio related R&D. Don’t forget the Air Force and all the pilots who live here. You can add to these all the ancillary service industries and construction.The fact that Davis hasn’t been smart about capturing enough of the economic activity to fund itself is another problem altogether but the regional economy has been quite strong.

        Beyond Davis and its immediate surroundings, there is too much poverty and my hope is that Davis’ expanding opportunities will also provide jobs in less skilled areas of production and support roles that help lift even more out of poverty.

        1. Keith Echols

          Ron, that’s a nice rosey economic picture for the region in general.  But let’s get down to what matters: revenue for the city of Davis.  Most of those jobs you described?  OUTSIDE of Davis.  Ag jobs?  How many of them outside of UCD are there?  In the entire Yolo County there’s scant a mention of them above 1,000 jobs.  Cache Creek Casino for god’s sakes has 2,000 jobs.

          Let’s get one thing straight…and I say this as someone who used to be part of Master Planned Developments (Communities)…..people/residence are a cost to a city.  So having people live in your city and work elsewhere doesn’t do much for your city.  Hopefully the bit of property tax you get from the county and the scraps of sales tax from their local spending pay for the services and facilities maintenance that these people require.

        2. Ron Glick

          “But let’s get down to what matters: revenue for the city of Davis.”

          I think I addressed this point that Davis’ failure to capture enough of the pie is self inflicted. No?

  4. Tia Will

    Obviously this is not my area of expertise, so if this is an exceedingly stupid question please feel free to say so.

    It seems to me that decades-long changes in the way economies have become intertwined ( at the city, regional, state, national, and international levels) there is no longer such a thing as single city sustainability. We are very interdependent. So the question. Can anyone name any single community that is completely self-sustaining? If not, we are actually discussing optimal degrees of interdependence, not how to become individually self-sustaining.

    1. Doby Fleeman

      For the most part, there are no stupid questions.
      In this case, I believe you are missing the point about how the economy and cities are structured – respectively – to generate local jobs and accompanying commerce, and to derive resulting taxes to support operations.   In this regard, geographical location and proximity – relative to other major population centers – plays a huge role that cannot be ignored.   Examples of relative more “self sustaining” communities might be Chico, San Luis Obispo, Boulder, CO, and Pensacola, FL.   Each of these communities serves as a Regional Destination Economic Hub for a much large, surrounding suburban population.  As such, each is host to a larger number of “region serving” businesses and services.  Frequently, these cities are also designated as the County Seat – hosting regional government offices, the courthouse, and other essential government services.   All of these factors combine to generate a much higher level of “per capita” local tax revenues – sales tax and property tax – which serve as the principal sources of revenue base for local municipal and district operations.
      Point is, you work with what you have.  In our case, Davis is not a Regional Destination Hub – that would be Sacramento.
      To reiterate, why does this matter?  Key to this conversation is whether one believes its a good thing if a business, or a community, or the city has the necessary tools and resources to care for itself – and if so, how does it do that.  Some, as you, have suggested they are willing to pay much higher taxes in order to achieve that balance.  Others may also, but might feel the need for a further, better explanation as to why the model isn’t currently managing on its own.
      These are simple answers to a much more complex equation.  Next would be to explore how efficiently and effectively a given community’s native/innate strengths are being strategically deployed or leveraged to achieve optimal results for the community and its residents.   With optimal being a balance between quality of life, cultural values, environmental stewardship, and fiscal sustainability and resilience, and future trajectory for opportunity and prosperity.
      If I may, the only ask I would have of your observation is to reconsider your use of absolute terms of comparison – “there is no such thing as single city sustainability” and “completely self-sustaining” – because the issues will always be one of degree – and I hate to lose the opportunity for discussion by shutting it down from the outset.    Likewise, I believe it is essential to this particular conversation to accept the need for the use of very specific terminology rather than vague terms like “intertwined” and “degrees of interdependence” for it is very difficult to parse the implications – and what we’re really talking about here is the urgent need to “parse” the conversation in order to get at the key issues facing the City and our abilities to continue as a leader in community planning and sustainability.

    2. Keith Echols

      Not a stupid question.

      Davis for the most part has been an island floating outside of Sacramento and the North Bay (I still find it hard to belive that Vacaville is the North Bay…).  This independence is because of the Univesity.  It is reflected in the large percentage of jobs in Davis that UCD represents.  UCD politically, economically and culturally dominate the City of Davis.


      But over the past 10 years there has been a change happening in Davis.  Sacramento has blow up with economic and populuation growth.  The island of Davis has been caught in the wake.  Not so much by development which has been constrained by Measure R and other efforts by Davis.  But simply by the percentage of people that now work outside of Davis.  Most commute to Sacramento.  Some telecomute often (even before the Covid Shelter in Place) to the Bay Area and Sac.  I recall a relatively recent online conversation about how many people weren’t happy that DJUSD didn’t align their spring break schedule with UCD’s (so parents that work there and kids had the same time off).  A good number of people didn’t see why the schedules had to align with UCD; they were happy it lined up with other school district spring break schedules.  These people weren’t part of UCD.  I’ve seen time and time again that there is an assumption that the City of Davis and UCD are practically the same thing and that the city should serve the University’s needs.  But this is changing as more non-UCD workers are moving to Davis.


      Now about Independence and Interdependence.  As a stand alone island that was heavily UCD dependent; restrictive housing and commerical development worked.  But now outside forces are influencing Davis.  Workers that do not work in Davis do not generate as much revenue for the city of Davis.  Revenue for the city means nicer streets, nicer parks, recreational facilities, festivities…etc…  For the most part residiential properties are a cost to cities….maybe break even if the city gets enough of the property tax to pay for services provided to those residences.   There is some offset of those expenses by the increased sales of goods and services in town….but then despite the “buy local” push…most people buy most of their stuff at Target (at least that’s local), Costco (Woodland) and nicer stuff online or in Sac.  So bottom line having all these people that work elsewhere isn’t necessarily a great thing for the city (from a revenue perspective).  That’s why building out business parks is important so that more local revenue is generated as well as hopefully local workers…or at least workers that come here to work.  Creating more business parks (that aren’t bogged down by measure R and extra costs like sustainability and housing) that attract busines make interdependence with Sacramento more of a benefit to Davis than a burden.

  5. Matt Williams

    The problem with this article is it illuminates data, but doesn’t illuminate why the data is important … or said another way, what are the consequences of the jobs situation that the data illuminates.

    Rik Keller’s initial comment (and I am very glad that that comment was not deleted) looks at “Davis” at the aggregate community level, which includes the UC Davis campus.  It also looks at that community from the perspective of impacts … in this case the traffic impacts.  That is a very important perspective, but it isn’t the only perspective.  In addition the data that the article illuminates largely ignores traffic impacts.

    Another perspective is the fiscal perspective (not to be confused with the economic perspective, which I will deal with later).  The bottom-line of the City of Davis’ fiscal situation is that we don’t pay our bills … and we haven’t been paying our bills every year for well over a decade.  If you had a customer who consistently paid you only 80 cents for every dollar that you billed him/her, how long would you continue to keep that customer?  You would probably say to yourself, “Who needs that deadbeat anyway?”

    Why does the City of Davis have only $61 million of Revenues, and $74 million of Expenses?  Is the City spending too much?  If it is spending too much, why is it spending too much?  How much are comparable Cities spending?  Does the reason that Davis could arguably be called a “deadbeat” have anything to do with jobs?

    Speaking of comparable cities, here is a question for everyone.  If you couldn’t live in Davis any more, what cities would be on your list of desirable places to live other than Davis?


    1. Ron Oertel

      I believe it is important to pay attention to SACOG’s concerns regarding the excess number of jobs available to Davis residents at UCD, and the net inflow of commuters this situation creates.

      The commute to/through Davis is (already) among the worst in the region.

      In any case, one of the giant arrows in the diagram is pointed the wrong way (and should primarily be pointed toward UCD).

      The “largest” arrow of all (the net inflow of commuters to jobs at UCD) is ENTIRELY MISSING from the diagram.  Of course, David already knows this.

      David is advocating for exactly the opposite of what SACOG’s concerns are.  He knows that, as well.


      1. David Greenwald

        I noted in the article that the chart didn’t account for UC Davis and provided additional information. The chart came from the Downtown Plan, it was not generated here.

        1. David Greenwald

          And Ron you should read the fourth paragraph of Matt’s comment again. And then my response to it.

          One thing that you have never figured out is that you are assuming I am putting this forward as advocacy of the plan. The reality is that I putting forward the plan as a way to rectify the fourth paragraph of Matt’s comment. Jobs at UC Davis are not equivalent to jobs in the city because they do not generate revenue for the city.

    2. David Greenwald

      “The problem with this article is it illuminates data, but doesn’t illuminate why the data is important … or said another way, what are the consequences of the jobs situation that the data illuminates.”

      This is a fair assessment. I will add, it was not the intention of this article to go to the next level, it was the intention of this article to illuminate the first level of this data.

      Your point on the revenue is the next part of the picture. The consequence of not having jobs in the city is we are not generating the property and sales tax revenue from those jobs in the city. Some people see that UC Davis jobs are interchangeable – certainly from a VMT standpoint that is true. But from a revenue standpoint that is not true.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Some people see that UC Davis jobs are interchangeable – certainly from a VMT standpoint that is true. But from a revenue standpoint that is not true.

        Add in the long-term cost of the 1,200 units in Davis that isn’t even included in the latest fiscal analysis, and then we’ll see.

        And really, the cost of the additional 1,700 units (outside of Davis) should also be included, although that’s the “other cities” problem, I suppose.

        Frankly, I’d also like to see someone put a dollar value on lost time/productivity, due to vastly increased congestion.  Some of that cost would be borne by businesses and the city, but a lot of it would be borne by individuals. How much is someone’s time worth?


        1. Ron Oertel

          But of course you and I don’t agree on the long-term cost of housing units or that they will even be necessary in this case.

          “Agreement” is not the point.  It hasn’t even been included in the fiscal analysis – in any way, shape or form.

          However, the need for those additional units (as a result of DISC) is specifically pointed out in the SEIR.

          These are facts, not “opinions”.

          So is the other point, regarding the “value” of lost time (from congestion).

  6. Ron Oertel

     Jobs at UC Davis are not equivalent to jobs in the city because they do not generate revenue for the city.

    That is factually untrue, in terms of all of the economic activity that is created as a result of jobs at UCD.  At its most basic level, it’s the reason for property tax valuations in Davis, as well as a host of other economic activity throughout the city.  These people get salaries, and that money is spent in the city.

    Here’s a test for you:  Take away UCD, and see what happens to the city itself.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Davis has never been a major employment center on its own, and yet it’s existed for 100+ years.

      The same is true for places that surround Sacramento (e.g., “suburbs” of Sacramento).

      The same has been true for many cities (suburbs) outside of major employment centers. (And yet, many of those cities don’t seem any worse-off because of it.)

    2. Ron Oertel

      At one time, San Francisco was about the only place to get a good job for the wealthy communities which surrounded it.  That’s still the case, regarding some of those communities (e.g., Marin, parts of Contra Costa county, etc.).

      In Davis’ case, it’s fortunate to have (both) UCD, and employment opportunities in Sacramento. Both of which tend to offer VERY stable jobs, with good pay and benefits.

      That, in a nutshell, is why Davis is a desirable place “as is”.

      1. Richard McCann

        That, in a nutshell, is why Davis is a desirable place “as is”.

        Ron O

        Your failure to acknowledge the deterioration of Davis, both in its fiscal sustainability and resilience, and in the hollowing out of its mid-aged population, is at the core of your misunderstanding about many of these issues. Davis is a very different place than when I moved year almost a quarter century ago. The Downtown businesses are going to be in dire straits as the pandemic continues and we likely will see many business closures. We could see the end of auto dealerships that provide so much sales tax revenues. Property taxes are only  part of the revenue story, and that will shrink as property values fall as the crisis goes on, and then Prop 13 will prevent those from ratcheting back up. Davis is not staying “as is” and we need to acknowledge that. We need to be looking at how we’re going to plan for a new future.


        1. Doby Fleeman

          And, one more thing.  Before you begin advocating for a split role tax and yet more progressive personal income taxes – consider the number of employers who have already cried uncle and left the state, or Elon Musk’s latest retort to the Governor’s declining his appeal to reopen the Tesla factory.

          Lastly, maybe you care to comment on why we not equivalent to the “retail sales tax” being imposed in any manner or form on the services sector of our economy?  Don’t those businesses, equally require and rely upon safe streets and good schools.

      2. Doby Fleeman


        No disagreement with your conclusions.  I don’t believe anyone is seriously disagreeing with your observations on this point – without UCD and proximity to the State Capitol – Davis would be just another small, central valley California farm town.

        The trajectory of the town owes everything to the trajectory of the university and growth of the state capitol.

        But again, these are what I would describe as “truisms” or “tautologies” – how do they help to inform today’s conversation and decision process?

        One of the biggest problems facing the Davis community and the City of Davis (as a discrete operating entity) is an outmoded and broken system of taxation  and redistribution.

        If you are unwilling to address that fundamental challenge, and you’re unwilling to address the implications of continuing to play host to the largest UC campus in the system and its continuing mandate for growth –  there really isn’t much to talk about – it’s all just a big muddle.

        Somehow, going forward, I don’t think that relying on a strategy of “simply muddling through” is necessarily in the best interests of anyone.

        What are your suggestions?  What is your ideal outcome?  What are you hoping to see emerge?  How is it to paid for, and by whom?

        Come on, step up, it’s your turn in the barrel.  🙂

        1. Keith Echols

          Your initial post said PEOPLE (in your words “working class adults”) not employers located in the city vs. on campus.  Big difference.

          Most employers aren’t going to order major supplies locally other than possibly some marginal expenditures on office supplies.

          Other than some lunch money; the over projection of employees spending in a city is questionable speculation at best.


          There are only two things that make Davis “desirable” from an employer standpoint.  If it has anything to do with the University it MAY desire to be close to the University…though other locations are vying for that business like Woodland and even central Sacramento.  The other is being a satellite community to Sacramento…so in that regard it’s business park offerings in terms of rent need to be LESS than those in Sacramento.  So the only market desirability or “killer app” that the city of Davis has going for it are specifically for those few businesses that must be vitally connected…as n geographically very close to the University.  Most businesses coming out of the University don’t require such an umbilical cord.

      3. Ron Oertel

        and in the hollowing out of its mid-aged population, is at the core of your misunderstanding about many of these issues.

        Those people (working-age adults) NEVER worked in Davis itself, for the most part.  They worked on campus or in Sacramento.

        Davis itself has NEVER been a major employment center.

        This “supposed issue” is a red herring.

        1. Keith Echols

          from a fiscal standpoint, what is the difference between working in Davis itself vs. working on Campus?  Isn’t Davis a major empoyment center because of the University?

          All that being said, I do believe that the City of Davis no longer needs to or should bend over backwards for UCD in terms of accomodating students and such.  UCD needs to house their students and pay into the city for the services they use (which I’d guess they do to some degree…but I’m curious if or what the service districts are that serve UCD and what those agreements are).

        2. Doby Fleeman


          Some basics:

          1) Employers physically located in the “City of Davis”, and not otherwise exampted from property tax assessments as are federal, state and local public sector employers and a fair number of “not for profits”, do pay local property taxes while those physically located outside the city limits do not.  That one point.

          2) Employers located within the City limits pay sales tax on all equipment and supplies purchased for use in their businesses.

          3) Employees of employers located within the City limits are more likely to spend their daily allotment – food, gas, clothing, dining, entertainment – in close proximity to their place of employ.

          Add those up and it’s not a distinction without merit.

          Beyond that, I disagree with your proposed remedy in the strongest terms.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Isn’t Davis a major employment center because of the University?

          No – never has been, at any point during its history.  And yet, has somehow survived (just like any other suburban community, adjacent to job centers).

          The fiscal analysis for DISC does not include the long-term fiscal costs of 1,200 residential units whose need would be created by DISC, but won’t be located at the site (in addition to the 1,700 units that would be needed outside of the city).

          What you’re seeing on here is vested interests attempting to make an issue out of a non-issue.

        4. Ron Oertel

          And for that matter, I understand that the fiscal analysis for DISC doesn’t include all of the fiscal costs for the commercial component, either.  (Even if it was entirely commercial.)

          For example – “hoped-for” road expansions, needed to serve the increased traffic.  Others have provided more detail regarding that.

        5. Keith Echols

          Okay…how exactly is the City of Davis NOT a major employment center because of UCD?


          UCD has jobs.  People come there to work.  They generally live in Davis.


          Now it’s probably true that those jobs don’t generate the same kind of city revenue that people working for an employer IN the city of Davis.


          But put simply, UCD has jobs.  Lots of people come to live in Davis because of those jobs.

        6. Ron Oertel

          Okay…how exactly is the City of Davis NOT a major employment center because of UCD?
          UCD has jobs.  People come there to work.  They generally live in Davis.

          I think there’s some confusion, regarding terminology/definitions.

          UCD does have a lot of jobs (good ones, at that).  Essentially, more than what’s needed for Davis residents.

          That’s why Davis experiences a net inflow of commuters, through town.  (The “giant arrow” that’s entirely missing, from the chart that David posted in this article.)

          Another arrow in that chart is primarily pointed in the “wrong” direction, and should point toward UCD instead (regarding Davis residents who work on campus).

          However, there’s never been a lot of jobs in the city, itself. Never has been, but some are now desperately trying to make an “issue” out of that.

          1. David Greenwald

            “UCD does have a lot of jobs (good ones, at that). Essentially, more than what’s needed for Davis residents.”

            UC Davis has a lot of jobs. Some of them are good. A lot of them are faculty positions. The issue is – if you don’t work for UC Davis, for the most part you are leaving town to work. Only one-tenth of the work force lives and works in the city (by the city meaning city proper, not UCD).

            The second part of that is that from a city revenue standpoint, creating jobs in town, will help to generate revenue. And some of those jobs will go to the people who live in Davis and down work in town or UCD.

        7. Ron Oertel

          David:  We can start over from the beginning, if you’d like. But, this is how we get to 100+ comments, repeating the same points, over-and-over.

          Or, you can just take one of those arrows in your chart, and . . .

          Maybe start with the giant “missing” one.


          1. David Greenwald

            Again, not my chart.

            More important I think there needs to be an understanding of what a lot of the university jobs are. Obviously you have a number of going jobs – faculty, administration. But that’s not most of the jobs on the campus. For instance we know that there are 2200 graduate assistants – I know from being a TA, the pay is not great and it’s limited as to who can do those jobs. There are adjunct faculty who are not paid particularly well. Then you get all of the student employees. You have the service workers. You have the janitors. So how many of those 24,000 positions are both open to the typical non-educator and well paying?

        8. Ron Oertel

          So how many of those 24,000 positions are both open to the typical non-educator and well paying?

          Apparently enough to create a giant, “missing” arrow of inbound commuters through Davis. 

          And, to redirect your other arrow, primarily toward campus (from Davis).

        9. Ron Oertel

          David:  So how many of those 24,000 positions are both open to the typical non-educator and well paying?

          The link below shows more than 14,000 professional (non-student) support staff positions at UCD. You’ll have to click on a couple of links from the following one, to see that summary.

          Another link shows the pay ranges for these types of positions, as of 2017:





        10. Ron Oertel

          Looks like there’s a couple of other non-student, non-academic professional/manager categories, as well.  Something in the range of 2,300 of those types of jobs. (In addition to the approximately 14,000 jobs discussed above.)

    3. Matt Williams

      Ron, if you look at the 2010 Census there were over 17,200 UCD students living within the City Limits of Davis.  At the same time there were 21,630 people in the age cohort of 25 and 54 living within the City Limits of Davis. If you use the Yolo County General Plan figure of 1.3 jobs per family (see LINK), the total number of people in the 25 to 54 cohort filling a full time job anywhere is probably less than the 17,200 number of UCD students living in the City.

      If you took away UCD from Davis, the biggest impact would be removing the students.  Arguably removing the Davis residents who work at UCD would have less of an impact.  Davis has become a retirement community and a student community.  The retirement community part of Davis would continue to chug along regardless of whether UCD were taken away.

      With that said, the chances of UCD being taken away are somewhere between slim and none, and slim has left the building.  So why bring that hypothetical up at all?



      1. Ron Oertel

        With that said, the chances of UCD being taken away are somewhere between slim and none, and slim has left the building.  So why bring that hypothetical up at all?

        Pointing out that UCD is the primary economic engine of Davis itself, and always has been.  Well that, plus jobs in Sacramento.

        As one example, what do you think would happen to property tax valuations, if UCD “left the building”?

        Here’s a hint:  The assessor’s office would be processing a lot of individual appeals, to lower property taxes on existing properties. The real estate market itself would crash, as well.

        Regarding retirees, they have pensions/retirement money coming in.

        The days of younger people supporting local retail are over, permanently. Everywhere.

        If you want to explore this further, perhaps you should check into whether or not all communities with significant numbers of retired people are necessarily “poor”.

      2. Keith Echols

        Matt, Davis along with the Sacramento region has majorily changed since 2010.  There are more and more workers that commute out of Davis than there ever used to be.

        I personally think students are a social pestilence…but that’s another matter.

        But I do believe it serves the city of Davis to push UCD to house it’s own students.  It’s not like they’re not going to walk or ride downtown and spend their money anyway.  Davis would thrive if it catered to working professionals and not poor students.

  7. Jeff Boone

    Frankly, I’d also like to see someone put a dollar value on lost time/productivity, due to vastly increased congestion.  Some of that cost would be borne by businesses and the city, but a lot of it would be borne by individuals. How much is someone’s time worth?

    I strive for self-awareness of what irritates me… because I am self-aware that I am easily irritated.

    The pandemic has helped my confirm what I already know.  People largely irritate me.  I dislike them on MY sidewalks.  I dislike them on MY roads.  I dislike them calling me on MY phone.  I dislike them in line at the restaurants, banks and coffee shops.  I dislike the students with their after market exhaust systems and their loud sub woofer sound systems driving around my neighborhood. I want everyone to get the hell out of my way so I can get to where I want to go and do what I want to do without having to be interrupted, delayed or diverted.

    And for the last 2+ months of working two essential businesses, I have been much more relaxed in my daily activities.

    But I know this isn’t good.  This isn’t reality.  This is a sign of a great economic malady forming before our eyes.  I have learned to accept that being irritated with a mass of people is actually a good sign.  The more irritated I am the better is the state of the overall human condition.

    I could move to North Dakota or Kentucky if I really needed to escape all those people making me irritated… and I might one day.  But today I know that I should be supporting and embracing what is irritating to me… because it is the right way to be.

    And I have the “David” Vanguard, Facebook and a few reliable friends ears I can use to purge all that irritation from humanity out of my system.

      1. Jeff Boone

        I think the topic is growth and economic development not COVID-19.

        No-growers and NIMBYs seem to not be able to articulate their opposition to growth other than it seems to irritate them.  It irritates me too, yet I still support it.  That was the point.

  8. Ron Glick

    Doby: “If you are unwilling to address that fundamental challenge, and you’re unwilling to address the implications of continuing to play host to the largest UC campus in the system and its continuing mandate for growth –  there really isn’t much to talk about…”

    Doby, that is the entire deal in a nutshell. People want the benefits of living here  but aren’t willing to accept any responsibility for accommodating their multibillion dollar a year generating neighbor. So yes, there is little common ground to be discussed with them. The saddest part is the result has been pitched parcel by parcel conflicts where election consultants and Ceqa attorneys thrive.

    Katehi, despite all her other failings, explained it clearly back around 2012 in a speech where she told the community that Davis was welcome to benefit from participating in the growth that UCD was going to have but if Davis didn’t want to participate UCD would go around us.

    Almost a decade later we can see this as true. The new Aggie Square development and West Village are perfect examples of Davis’ foregoing participation with the resultant structural deficit and declining infrastructure the result. The last strategic thinking by the city was under Steve Pinkerton and his proposal to build a business park on the 391 parcel. It would have brought a much needed stream of revenue of around $5 million a year into the city coffers. Of course, as usual it got shot down by the usual suspects.

    Doby, I know you were addressing the other Ron but I couldn’t help but weigh in.


  9. Doby Fleeman

    Ron O,

    What is the point of all your cites?

    1) UCD provides all kinds of high quality, well-paying jobs?

    2) All of UCD’s hi-quality, well-paying jobs help support housing prices in Davis?

    These poInts are not in dispute.

    The challenge before the community is how does the City of Davis go about attracting and retaining – Davis-based employers and jobs whose presence – of themselves – help the City of Davis to earn its way and pay its keep.

    If you have something more to contribute, by all means please do share.

    Otherwise, the truisms and tautologies grow tiresome.







    1. Ron Oertel

      These poInts are not in dispute.

      Yes, they were.  If you look at the thread, David was disputing that. (I rounded one of those numbers down to the nearest thousand.)

      As far as making Davis itself an employment center, it never was one.

      I suspect that there’s other cities/communities around California that aren’t, as well. (Essentially “suburbs” of employment centers.) Some of those seem to be pretty wealthy.

      1. David Greenwald

        “As far as making Davis itself an employment center, it never was one. ”

        You seem to think that’s a point in your favor rather than the opposite

        1. Ron Oertel

          So, here’s what actually happened regarding this particular thread:

          You asked me the following:

          David: “Obviously you have a number of going jobs – faculty, administration. But that’s not most of the jobs on the campus.”

          “So how many of those 24,000 positions are both open to the typical non-educator and well paying”?

          I then responded with the information posted earlier, showing about 14,300 non-student, non-academic professional jobs, and another 2,300 non-student, non-academic managerial-type jobs. 

          I also posted salary data. You can refer back to that, if you’d like.

          Then (for some unknown reason), Doby chimed in.  Then you did, again.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Because you asked me. 

          Didn’t you read the quoted question (from you to me)?

          You’d think I’d get a “thank you”, for posting information regarding that question that you could have easily found, yourself.

          But next time, I wouldn’t start off with a misleading comment regarding the type of “most of the jobs”, on campus, if I were you.

          In any case, “you’re welcome”.

  10. Tim Keller

    Reading all the comments… and now I want the last 15 minutes of my life back.    Seems all of the “facts” out there are just mirrors that people are looking at in order to see the conclusions they already have.

    But anyway…   Davis needs a lot more room for startups… that is the truth that I see, and I’m sticking to it.

    1. Ron Glick

      As Paul Simon sang “People hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest.”

      Room for start ups yes but then we need to have space for scaling up those start ups that are successful. Its when they grow up to scale that the real money that can be recycled through the community is made.

      1. Matt Williams

        I too agree with what Ron G. has said.

        Which is why the absolute silence about actual jobs (as opposed to theoretical jobs) by the project development team.  As Clara Peller would say:

        Tim Keller has given us more information about actual jobs than the project development team has.

    2. Doby Fleeman

      Davis also needs room for a few, “at scale” mothership employers with sufficient capital base, resources, technology and employment needs to create a stable, lasting source of jobs.

      In it not unusual for such employers to prefer cluster environments.

      If past history is to be any guide, it is from these well heeled, well financed, stable employers – with key linkages to adjacent research universities – that today’s spin-offs first emerge.  While this equation may change, it would be helpful to see recent examples of spontaneous Innovation Centers which have emerged without supportive infrastructure provided by a larger anchor tenant/s.

  11. Tia Will

    Songs frequently embody a reality about our existence. I see your Paul Simon quote and offer:

    “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone?”


    1. Ron Glick

      I’m told it was written about the parking lot at Paradise on Mt. Ranier.

      Paradise for those who can afford it. Rent servitude and poverty for others. I’m happy that you are living in Paradise but I’m more concerned about helping those who are trying to reach for nirvana but aren’t there yet.

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