Guest Commentary: Equity Is Needed in Decision Making Process

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by Mary Martinez

My name is, Maria Martinez, and am the External Vice President of ASUCD. Davis is in a desperate housing shortage, making it difficult for students to afford college, find a safe,comfortable place to study, and makes us vulnerable to bad faith landlords. I urge the Davis City Council to approve the University Commons proposal since it will help alleviate the housing shortage.

I was born to Salvadoran refugees in DC and later grew up in the Central Valley. They worked hard for me to grow and become a first-generation college student. UC Davis has allowed me to further my education and plan out a future career.

My story is not unique. The UC Davis student community is a majority of students of color. First-generation college students now account for 40% of our undergraduate population. However, many of us, including myself, struggle to find housing. Worse so, those with economically disadvantaged backgrounds are often forced to live in cramped conditions because there are so few options.

Just last week, my friend was complaining about how they would fit seven girls into a 3-bedroom apartment. For the longest time, I did not know anyone who had a single room. For all of the discussion around “mini-dorms,” it’s not that we want to live packed into these conditions, there simply are not enough places to live. This fact is often lost, including by members of the City’s Planning Commission.

Back in May, many student leaders were saddened to find out that the Planning Commission rejected recommending the University Commons proposal 7-0. In response, ASCUD studied the project, and had it evaluated by our internal commission, the Environmental Policy and Planning Commission (EPPC). EPPC’s analysis made it abundantly evident that the project was in a perfect location for new housing by being adjacent to campus with multiple bus lanes and reducing dependence on cars. ASUCD officially endorsed the proposal at our last meeting of the year in June.

As someone with my identity, I notice when there is a lack of representation on governing bodies. Furthermore, when a body is making decisions, those most impacted should be put at center stage in the discussion; in this case, potential renters  not homeowners who are housing secure.

The Davis School District is currently undergoing the reckoning of a lack of broad based representation.. With a school district comprised of almost 50% of students of color, having someone from that community is essential to serve on their board. In the same vein, the Planning Commission does not reflect the full diversity of Davis, especially the diverse student body at UCD.

Worst of all, I read language that acts as if students are a burden. Some say all students should just live on campus, as if Davis would be better off with no students.

Davis students are the lifeblood of a prosperous Davis. Our dollars support retail throughout the town, and students would help revitalize the University Mall area if we lived on site.

During our unprecedented shutdown, many friends of mine left Davis for Spring Quarter. Without our shopping dollars, Davis businesses are suffering. If the campus is mostly online in Fall Quarter, even more students will forgo coming to Davis. This unfortunate time is just another reminder that successful local businesses and a vibrant university all need the students.

UC Davis students are just as much of the community as those who may have lived here all their lives. However, the housing shortage hits us students the hardest, yet we are not the decision-makers in this process.

I do not have every answer to solving the housing crisis, but I do know that to reject dense housing next to campus is the wrong answer. Less housing only increases the risk of housing insecurity and student homelessness. Please Davis City Council, support the University Commons proposal.

Mary Martinez is the External Vice President of ASUCD. Davis


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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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7 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: Equity Is Needed in Decision Making Process”

  1. Ron Glick

    Well said Ms Martinez.

    Tell all the students to vote no on the extension of Measure R on the November ballot. Measures J/R have done more to create the housing shortage in Davis than any other thing Davis has done in the last 20 years to stifle housing construction.

  2. Eric Gelber

    Given the profound impact of UCD and its students on the local economy and standard of living, the us versus them attitude expressed by many Davis residents toward students has always struck me as somewhat incongruous. That’s not to say the university shouldn’t be taking  a major role in addressing student housing needs or that each project shouldn’t be addressed on its own merits. But providing for the housing needs of students has often been treated as a burden rather than a shared responsibility, and dealt with grudgingly.

    “Nothing about us without us” is a mantra of the disability rights advocacy community. Given the impact of the student population on the City, and the prevalence of  City issues that directly or indirectly impact students, particularly related to  housing, I believe there should be a designated position on the Planning Commission for a student representative.

    1. Ron Glick

      A housing policy that sequesters students on campus also disenfranchises them from participating in Measure R votes. Also international students can’t vote even if they live in the city. Measure R perpetuates inequity in housing policy.

  3. Todd Edelman

    ASUCD basically supports any project with any housing: I am curious if their EPPC also thought that DISC passes eco-muster.

    But what’s stupid is that this project – like Sterling 5th – could have a lot more housing over or instead of the parking lots and of course instead of some of the parking in parking structure: More housing, less cars is a win-win for everyone not beholden to the “people with cars deserve housing” philosophy. (I think some cars are okay here, okay?). It’s actually very sad to see how very short Sterling is — it feels out of place. It could have been taller, with the same parking, so more housing. Or more housing instead of parking.

    If approved for whatever reason, it will be also be sad to see the parking lots at University Commmons empty at night as many can’t find a decent place to sleep.

    Also shout out to the faith businesses and shopping center owners who are not building housing on or above their parking lots! Great citizens you are!

    1. David Greenwald

      From a policy standpoint they can’t win. Some people are arguing that there is too little parking, some too much. I tend to agree with you because increasingly students just don’t drive and it’s across the street from the university. But others a fearful that this will push people either into commercial spaces or the neighborhoods. So they have to balance those two concerns.

    2. Ron Oertel

      ASUCD basically supports any project with any housing: I am curious if their EPPC also thought that DISC passes eco-muster.

      I suspect that I know the answer to that (without even asking), though I didn’t previously know they even had an “EPPC” (as described in the article).

      I suspect that their “EPPC” is for amusement purposes, only.

  4. Alan Miller

    Seems that the Davis Chamber of Commerce and ASUCD would support a giant block of swiss cheese with students living in the holes.  No matter what concerns a city commission or anyone might have, as long as the holes hold students.  I can’t wait for the 3 hours of talking points Tuesday Evening in public comments from business and student organizations, with everyone saying the same thing over and over.  And the anti-growth crowd is just as bad.  You all s@ck.  How about nuance?  Ever tried it?

    As for the ASUCD author, you will continue to lose on housing until students get past blind promotion of individual developments.  The problems in Davis are STRUCTURAL.  These include:

    • Measure R, which has (and will) massively inhibited housing stock.

    • Students on Campus can’t vote in City Elections

    • Choice Voting in City Elections would allow students a chance

    • We also must destroy the district voting system by whatever means necessary.

    Until students recognize how the current structure is hurting them – the housing situation will not chance.

    As for . . .

    Worst of all, I read language that acts as if students are a burden.

    That was one guy who was trolling you.  Yet students, a local blog, a councilmember, all repeat his drama and give him massive attention.  No one else thinks that way, and I doubt it was literal anyway.  Please, drop it – it’s internet paranoia.

    As for . . .

    when a body is making decisions, those most impacted should be put at center stage in the discussion; in this case, potential renters  not homeowners who are housing secure.

    I don’t disagree that renters should be considered, but dismissing the needs of homeowners isn’t a way to make friends and influence people.  With that shiny degree from UCD, you, too, might own a home someday, so careful what you wish for.

    UC Davis students are just as much of the community as those who may have lived here all their lives.

    I agree.

    However, the housing shortage hits us students the hardest, yet we are not the decision-makers in this process.

    And that goes back to the beginning comment I made.  It’s STRUCTURAL.  That is what needs addressing.

     

     

     

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