Guest Commentary: Davis Should Plan to Build More Housing

Share:

By Jake Berman

When I moved to Davis in 1994, housing was cheap and plentiful enough that my parents, a state worker and a therapist, could afford to buy a house and raise children here.  This is no longer the case.  The average home in Davis sells for $761,000, which is unaffordable to anyone making less than $150,000 a year.  Davis High School and UCD graduates can’t afford to stay in Davis and raise families. Many of the students are already commuting in from Woodland or Sacramento, causing traffic and pollution. Davis has a golden chance to address the housing shortage this year, but the City is not rising to the challenge.

Later this year, the City of Davis has to send a legally binding plan (called a Housing Element) to the State of California, showing how the City plans to build a minimum of 2,075 new homes by 2029. If the State doesn’t approve the plan, the City land use and zoning laws are suspended until a new plan is accepted.  Every city in California is dealing with this new housing quota system now.  Some cities are making a good faith effort to meet their respective quotas.  Sacramento voted to allow small apartments citywide, and big apartments near train stations; Berkeley and Santa Monica voted to end their apartment bans. Unfortunately, the City of Davis’s response is to play games with the numbers, and continue with business as usual.

To avoid having to change Davis’s sclerotic housing laws, the City simply waves a magic wand.  They say, Davis can meet its quota because Davis will build 100% of the housing currently planned or approved.  That’s laughable.  Davis’s history is littered with the wreckage of large-scale housing proposals which went down in flames.  Covell Village in 2005.  Wildhorse in 2009.  DISC in 2020.

But there is a way out, because there are four straightforward reforms the City could adopt in its plan to make it possible again for Davis High School and UCDavis graduates to stay in the town they love.

The Westlake shopping center: struggling for decades, and a great place to put new apartments.

First, the City could allow new apartments to be built on top of parking lots.  The struggling Davis Manor shopping center on East 8th has 2.9 acres of lightly-used surface parking lot; the Westlake shopping center in West Davis has struggled for decades, and has 2.5 acres of surface parking; the civic buildings downtown are surrounded by 4.5 acres of parking lots which sit largely empty.

The charm of Midtown Sacramento: currently illegal to build in Davis.

Second, the City could repeal its apartment ban.  In most Davis neighborhoods, including where I grew up, suburban-style single-family homes are required by law.  This makes it illegal to build the kinds of neighborhoods you see in Midtown Sacramento, or in other college towns like Berkeley, Cambridge and Princeton.  Thus, on a typical 7000 square foot lot, it’s legal to build a 2800-square-foot mansion with a 500-square-foot garage.  But it’s not legal to build four apartments, as in Midtown Sac, or four row houses, like on the East Coast.  Both options are compatible with Davis’s quirky college-town feel.

Third, the City could repeal its mandatory parking law.  Despite Davis’s world-beating bike infrastructure and famed cycling culture, City law requires:

  • 800 square feet of car parking (two spaces) to be built for every home, on average
  • 400 square feet of car parking (one space) for every 300 square feet of retail
  • 400 square feet of car parking (one space) for every 400 square feet of office space.

This mandatory parking law wastes land, encourages people to drive, and makes it illegal to build the kinds of traditional neighborhoods that you see in Downtown Davis, Midtown Sacramento, and in Berkeley.

Fourth, the City could take a page from Sacramento’s book, and provide automatic approval for all new housing projects which otherwise meet the law.  Currently, building new homes in Davis is a complex, painful process.  Even if a proposed project meets the existing City law, the City Council often delays or rejects new homes, usually on spurious grounds.  The best example of Davis’s broken planning process is the decades-long redevelopment of the old Hunt-Wesson tomato cannery on Covell.  The plant closed in 1999.  Twenty-two years later, the project still isn’t fully built out.  (For reference, the Golden Gate Bridge took four years to build.)

Davis should make a good faith effort to reform its laws and allow more homes to be built.  But that’s not what the City is proposing to do.  Instead, the City’s plan is to twiddle their thumbs, game the numbers, and accept the status quo of expensive housing, commuter traffic, and air pollution.  The City Council should reform Davis’s housing policies, and create a housing element which makes Davis more affordable for all.

Jake Berman is an attorney who previously worked at the Attorney General’s Office and grew up in Davis (DHS ’04).  He has previously written for the Guardian, Strong Towns, and PublicSource Pittsburgh.  His artistic work has been in The New Yorker, Atlas Obscura, the SF Chronicle, and the San Jose Mercury News.


Support our work – to become a sustaining at $5 – $10- $25 per month hit the link:

Share:

About The Author

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.

Related posts

41 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: Davis Should Plan to Build More Housing”

  1. Alan Miller

    Amazing – all the projects mentioned “went down in flames” because of Measure JeRkeD.  All of them.  And Davis is different from other towns because of Measure JeRkeD.  And yet, the writer never once mentions Measure JeRkeD?  How can that be?

    Praising apartment building?  Oh goodie goodie whoopie . . . isn’t life grand.

    Then that picture of midtown Sac – two beautiful, very old, classic with real architecture, single family homes with large setbacks and big back yards – and a decent modern architecture building with a large setback off to the side – focusing on these beautiful old homes and calling it ‘charm’ – but then praising apartments in the text – Davis needs apartments – large and small.

    And my favorites – automatic building approval, suspension of zoning , and no parking minimums – it’s all automatic – a developer’s dream world! Maximum profits, as God intended.

    May the author be condemned to live in the foils of his ‘charmed’ creations.

    1. David Greenwald

      I have the same issue with you as I do with Glick on this point – at this point attacking Measure J is pointless. 83 percent of the voters approved it. No one with any sort of political clout will touch it. So if you’re only solution to housing is get rid of Measure J and it infects every conversation, in effect, you punt on housing for the time being. That doesn’t seem a viable strategy.

      1. Ron Glick

        Actually I haven’t been talking too much about Measure D since it passed. Davis has made its bed and will live with it for at least the next nine years. Still I think that pointing out that the original sin of Davis’ housing shortage, Measure J, is worth mentioning.

        In this article however, I think its appropriate to infer from the author citing the rejection of several Measure J or R projects without calling out the ordinances specifically, that direct democracy in Davis has failed to work in the best interests of those not already owning property here.

        Ultimately Davis isn’t interested in any housing solutions because local voters will always choose local impacts over regional benefits.

        1. Alan Pryor

           

          Well, one proposed solution would be to sprawl in every direction as some commenters seem to imply. Unfortunately, such housing projects never pay for their own way in terms of property taxes providing the necessary long-term income to pay for future infrastructure maintenance associated with these projects (e.g. street repaving needed because of huge traffic inreases the projects bring).

          These “hidden” cost of development, along with uncontrolled employee compensation increases and associated pension/retirement costs, has led to huge fiscal shortfalls in Davis resulting in objectively the worst streets in Yolo County. Another example of our crumbling City facility infrastructure is the most recently proposed increase in stormwater tax increases where the existing property tax base has proved insufficient to maintain our stormwater handling infrastructure.

          Joe Minicozzi of Urban3 clearly and quantitatively pointed this out with his exceptional local presentations discussing how land use and zoning affect a City’s economic health. According to Minicozzi, the solution is intensive infill rather than peripheral sprawl. Indeed, the City and DJUSD itself has numerous properties that could provide substantial additional housing near our downtown core with their properties on 5th St between L and Poleline and the existing DJUSD headquarters on 5th and B St. But rather than intelligently doing their job and embracing such objective evidence showing the way to fiscal sustainability is through such proven infill strategies, our Council and Planning Dept Staff have since been falling all over themselves focusing on major peripheral sprawl projects like WDAAC (now Bretton Woods) and DISC.

          True these projects add housing but at the cost of loss of prime farmland and more long-term civic economic hardship and nightmarish future traffic snarls. Such a peripheral building strategy makes for fat developer profits but it is hardly “smart” planning.

        2. Ron Glick

          I love it when people who live in single family homes argue against other people being able to live in single family homes. Of course the longer you live in a single family home the farther behind the market is your tax base. So the problem isn’t that new neighborhoods don’t pay for themselves its that existing home owners aren’t paying the true infrastructure maintenance costs.

          As a simplified example, a home owner, who buys a new million dollar home, pays $10,000 in property taxes. At the same time a homeowner who bought the same size house for $100,000 36 years ago only pays $2000 a year in property taxes. So who is the real problem?

        3. Richard_McCann

          Ron G has hit on a significant part of the problem. The attorneys in the 1997 West Virginia coal mining case did such a poor job of arguing the inequity of differential tax rates before the Supreme Court, and Scalia wrote yet another illogical decision, so we have an uphill battle fighting this travesty.  I think any campaign to solve the Prop 13 problem will require an in depth analysis showing the disparities in contributions to municipal finances and who gets the breaks (usually wealthier white households.)

      2. Alan Miller

        I have the same issue with you as I do with Glick on this point – at this point attacking Measure J is pointless. 83 percent of the voters approved it.

        In other news, a former reincarnation of David Greenwald told Copernicus to keep his mouth shut, because 83% of people believed the Sun rotated around the Earth.

        When I’m right, I’m right – and that most people are wrong is no reason for me not to tell them so 😐    And I will, over and over and over again.  In fact my Tombstone will face Pole Line and have etched in stone forever, “I told you so – Measure JeRkeD S¨cks”.  The tombstone that later gets covered over to make way for cemetary housing because we ran out of room, due to Measure JeRkeD

  2. Alan Pryor

    The author and commenters are ignoring the root cause of the housing shortage in Davis. It is NOT Measure J/R/D nor repressive zoning laws which is causing the housing shortage in Davis . It is the huge influx of students and faculty/staff associated with UC Davis. If the University provided the necessary housing only for their increasing number of students on campus, we would not have the housing shortages, plummeting vacancy rates, and skyrocketing housing and rental costs. And there would be hundreds of additional homes in town available for families with kids to replenish our schools.

     

    1. Eric Gelber

      You are likely correct. But this begs the question of what steps the city can take to address or mitigate the problem given that UCD won’t be in the foreseeable future.

    2. Richard_McCann

      Alan P

      I disagree. No where else do they ask an employer to specifically build housing for their employees or their customers. And why do we want to disenfranchise students from Davis civic affairs by forcing them to live on campus in Yolo County? (And now faculty and staff should be similarly disenfranchised? Note that since UCD owns the land, those employees would not be able to build real estate equity which the majority of household equity for the middle class.) UCD generates economic activity and funds for our community. We have an obligation to provide support for the benefits (not just financial) that other state taxpayers have bestowed on us. And UCD has stepped with plans for housing most of the increase on student. Davis isn’t going to get even more housing from that high-cost provider. We must be part of the solution, and not try to push it off on someone else.

      Alan M

      I agree. We need to keep raising the problems with Measures J/R/D. I suspect the state may step in based on equity concerns and require that these growth control measures must meet certain criteria. I believe that there is an intermediate solution in which specific development requirements are adopted, and projects that fit those have a lower threshold for approval, much like the changes in CEQA for transit-oriented development.

      I took Berman’s proposals at being focused on new housing within current City borders. While he mentions the peripheral projects, everything else is about redeveloping existing properties. A good round of proposals.

      1. Keith Y Echols

        No where else do they ask an employer to specifically build housing for their employees or their customers. 

        No other industry requires a city to build warehouses for it’s revenue generating products (students).

        There.  Fixed it for you.

         UCD generates economic activity and funds for our community. We have an obligation to provide support for the benefits (not just financial) that other state taxpayers have bestowed on us.

        UCD is just another company that provides jobs in the area.  It deserves no special treatment as it has for years pushed it’s need to store it’s revenue producing assets at the expense of the city.  The bizarre reverence many hold for UCD in this town continues to astound me.  You don’t see it in other major university cities where the city and the university are distinct entities with often competing interests that are negotiated or fought over…but not some sacred reverence for the university.

         

         

  3. Matt Williams

    First, the City could allow new apartments to be built on top of parking lots.

    .
    The University Mall project was a good opportunity to make progress on this suggestion, but very little of the surface parking lot area was repurposed, as this suggestion suggests.  The additional residential units that are included in the plan do accommodate parking in the lower floors of the expanded structure, which is some progress.

    Third, the City could repeal its mandatory parking law.

    .
    Despite the clear “use parking maximums rather than parking minimums” advice from parking/transportation consultants during the Downtown Plan Update process and community workshops, University Mall was designed and approved with (unnecessary in my opinion) copious parking spaces for the residential units.  Given the fact that the vast majority of the residents can/will walk across Russell Blvd. to their “jobs” on the UCD campus, residents having cars is a “nice to have” rather than a “necessity.”  There is an abundance of existing apartments in Davis that offer parking for residents/students who “need” a car.  There is also an abundance of UCD students who do not include that “car need” in their lives.

    Mr. Berman’s suggestions #1 and #3 have an excellent opportunity to be brought together in the Downtown Plan Update.  The most logical first building/lot to be redeveloped under that updated plan is the south Davis Ace Building located between G Street on the west and the California Northern railroad tracks on the east and between 3rd Street on the north and 1st Street on the south.  Any plans for redevelopment of that parcel should also include the Amtrak parking lot, as well as the parking lot spaces just to the west of the railroad tracks.  Residents of such a redeveloped mixed use structure would have superb access to public transit, and therefore need no parking spaces for their residential unit, and the Amtrak parking spaces could be incorporated into the redeveloped structure.  That would mean a substantial number of residential units would exist in the same ground footprint of the Amtrak parking.

    Accomplishing that kind of result requires both the active support of the City (staff, Council, businesses and citizens) AND the developer AND the lending community.  Actually, not just support, but also collaboration.

    Mr. Berman calls out The Cannery as an example, and essentially places all the blame on the City.  He forgets that the developer had/has a substantial impact on what has happened in The Cannery.  Mr. Berman also overlooks the fact that almost all the new residences in The Cannery had an initial sale price that is greater than the $761,000 average home sale price in Davis that he cites.

    1. Mark West

      “The most logical first building/lot to be redeveloped under that updated plan is the south Davis Ace Building”

      The Hibbert site a couple of blocks north is larger and essentially bare ground with much better access.

      The City owned parking lot immediately adjacent to the former Ace building would be much better suited to be included in a potential project at that site than would the Amtrak lot on the other side of the tracks.

        1. Richard_McCann

          OK, how did you find that comment??? Is there a hidden search function that David needs to put on the front page of the Vanguard?

      1. Bill Marshall

        I remember the discussions, Alan, and the “CC&Rs” implicit (and explicit) in the City acquiring the funds to acquire the triangle, improve it, and redo- the station…

        Would require the ‘luck’ of a snowball’s chance in Hades… on the hottest day… ain’t goin’ to be a happening thingy…

  4. Ron Oertel

    The average home in Davis sells for $761,000, which is . . .

    almost the same as the state median sales price.  Have you been paying attention at all, to what’s going on with the housing market across the entire country?

    which is unaffordable to anyone making less than $150,000 a year . . .

    And is not a problem for many two-income families, and those moving from the Bay Area – some of whom can purchase “in cash”.

    Of course, you also have to factor in property and parcel taxes, CFDs, insurance, city service bills, etc.

    Davis’s history is littered with the wreckage of large-scale housing proposals which went down in flames. 
    DISC in 2020.

    Good to see somewhat acknowledge the motivation behind DISC – a sprawling housing development adjacent to a freeway, with thousands of parking spots.

    Many of the students are already commuting in from Woodland or Sacramento, causing traffic and pollution. Davis has a golden chance to address the housing shortage this year, but the City is not rising to the challenge.

    Not sure if this refers to UCD students (who would be “least impactful”, living in one of the massive new housing projects being built on campus, and/or the megadorms already-approved in the city).  But if so, even the Vanguard acknowledges that student housing is not an issue at this point.  (But hey, have you seen those prices at Sterling?  So much for the “build-it-to-affordability” model.  And by the way, the studios and single-bedrooms have sold-out “first”.)

    As far as DJUSD students, maybe talk to that district about the reason that they’re pilfering students from other districts.

    And if you don’t like what places like Woodland and West Sacramento are building, maybe you should talk to them.  But, it’s not likely that they’re going to change their continuing plans to approve more sprawl, based upon what you or anyone else says.

     

     

    1. Hiram Jackson

      Ron Oertel: “As far as DJUSD students, maybe talk to that district about the reason that they’re pilfering students from other districts.”

      Pilfering?  Are the out-of-district families attending DJUSD unwillingly?

    2. Richard_McCann

      Ron O

      I just realized that you use the same misplaced and poorly constructed arguments that Joel Kotkin makes at the New Geography: 
      https://www.newgeography.com/
      Kotkin often does a good job of identifying the problem, but then doesn’t really understand the mechanics that created the problem (and he’s also deeply in denial about how American culture has had a role) and proposes solutions that are rooted in perpetuating the problem. Most notably Kotkin is a climate change denialist because he has to be to argue for perpetuating suburbia as it exists today (and the 1950s, his dream decade.)

  5. Ron Oertel

    This mandatory parking law wastes land, encourages people to drive, and makes it illegal to build the kinds of traditional neighborhoods that you see in Downtown Davis, Midtown Sacramento, and in Berkeley.

    By “traditional”, this means the period in which cars did not exist (and were not parked on the street when there is no garage – and/or if it’s full of other stuff). Those days are over, and have been for many decades.

    But sure, eliminate on-site parking in Davis, if you want to encourage even more sprawl from other nearby areas that will continue to accommodate it.  Often to the tune of 3-car garages.

    Either that, or they’ll be parking in front of the neighbors’ houses. Who increasingly also won’t have garages, and will be competing for that same parking spot. (Their visitors, as well.)

  6. Ron Oertel

    By the way, I’m not sure that folks realize what’s occurring in the housing market, in terms of corporations purchasing single-family housing to rent them out – including in places like Sacramento.  Sometimes, blocks of homes in (new) developments.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/04/magazine/wall-street-landlords.html

    https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/02/single-family-landlords-wall-street/582394/

    Here’s a video which notes that these are sometimes foreign corporations, as well.  If you watch this video (from the “Young Turks” on Youtube), note how well-spoken and passionate this woman is regarding the impact on the housing market – especially for younger buyers competing with corporate all-cash purchasers. Increasingly, in the “suburbs” as well.

    She is nearly “shouting” that this is NOT a problem with “supply”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfgC_yOm5sw

      1. Ron Oertel

        I don’t know if it’s happening in Davis, but it is happening in Yolo county.  For example:

        It’s estimated the property value of Blackstone’s local holdings is well above $107.5 million, and that the amount of physical property it controls is far above half-million square-feet of rental space, not counting its rental homes in Yolo and Placer counties.

        today it’s the largest private property owner in Sacramento County, and the second largest overall after the county itself.

        https://sacramento.newsreview.com/2021/03/18/when-predatory-practices-catch-up-sacramentos-largest-corporate-landlord-may-be-forced-to-pay-millions-to-struggling-renters/

        Of course, housing prices/availability in given cities are always impacted by what’s happening beyond their borders, as well. (Probably more so than what’s occurring within its borders.)

        1. Bill Marshall

          Thanks for the REIT tip on Blackstone, Ron O… will seriously look into it… much appreciated!  (and with the likelihood of appreciating!)

        2. Ron Oertel

          This phenomenon refers to single-family homes, which are being purchased in-mass by corporate interests (including foreign corporations) with the intent to rent them out – thereby impacting inventory and price.  And making it that much more difficult for younger generations to compete – possibly ensuring that they remain renters in the type of homes that they would otherwise purchase.  They’re also apparently knocking “Mom and Pop” landlords (who tend to be less aggressive regarding rental prices, etc.) out of business.

          I understand that the corporate landlords may also be “better” at getting stimulus money, in regard to renters who are impacted by Covid and cannot be evicted.  From what I’ve heard, it’s not that easy of a process.  (But perhaps easier “in mass”.)

          Corporate purchases of single-family dwellings (with the intention of renting them out) is a relatively new phenomenon, with its origins back in the housing crash that started almost 15 years ago.  Of course, this type of investment also helped the market find a “bottom” at that time, as it was nearly in free-fall.

          The part of this phenomenon that seems to be even “newer” is that they are now purchasing brand-new homes (in mass/blocks), in some areas, with the intention of renting them out.

          Given the size and scope of what’s occurring, you’d think that you’d hear more about this. But it does now seem to be coming to the attention of lawmakers, as noted in the article I posted.

        3. Bill Marshall

          I suggest Ron, you invest in a REIT (if not, already)… I have a couple in my portfolio, as many Mutual Funds do… I keep it @ or below 10% of investments… makes sense if one thinks “long-term”… not short term… never even thought of being anything close to a “day-trader”… the ‘corporate’ interest is not “inherently bad”… they focus on “the market”, ROI… long term…

    1. Richard_McCann

      She is nearly “shouting” that this is NOT a problem with “supply”.

      That corporations are stepping to buy up property for rentals means that they see the supply shortfall being sufficient to create the scarcity rents that allow them to gain larger profits–it’s all about supply.

      1. Ron Oertel

        It’s about having the resources (cash) and economies of scale (along with a government program which have specifically benefited them in this effort).

        Read the articles I posted, and you’ll see.  I recall that The Atlantic mentioned the government program.

        It’s turning single-family housing into rental housing, on a vast scale.

        1. Richard_McCann

          First, the Atlantic article is about maintenance woes at rentals that would have been headaches for homeowners if the Great Recession hadn’t happened–it just would have been about poor building quality by large corporate builders.

          And again, those corporations are able to demand higher rents to justify the higher prices solely because of a shortage of supply. This is the most basic of economic principles. The ability to marginally outcompete with credit and scale are second order effects.

        2. Ron Oertel

          From The Atlantic article:

          Despite the fact that the housing market has largely rebounded, the federal government continued financially supporting single-family rental companies until recently. In 2017, Fannie Mae provided a $1 billion loan guarantee for Invitation Homes, which allowed the company to benefit from lower interest rates than it would have received without the government’s backing, as well as more favorable loan terms. 

          Also, note that The Atlantic article is not one I cherry-picked, or even read myself before posting a link to it. There’s lots of articles on the Internet regarding this phenomenon, including more-recent ones.

          And yes, these companies are operating in the Sacramento region, as well.

          You’re demonstrating both a lack of ability to read (even when spoon-fed to you), and a fundamental lack of understanding of economics.

  7. Alan Miller

    Great info RO – I read the Atlantic article – truly scary.  Once again, the government steps in to fix an economic problem and creates a worse problem, that the government than steps in to try to correct (and this will no doubt create new problems).

    This is why I am a capitalist free market sort, hating both government and corporations with equal disdain.  Socialism and corporatism are twin evils, not idealistic opposites of good vs. evil.

  8. Keith Y Echols

    I should cut and paste my response from the last time this subject was brought up:

    Guest Commentary: Davis Should Plan to Build More Housing

    WHY????

    I asked this last time and no one gave a rational answer.  I got a lot of emotional and some indignant “think of the children” responses as if it’s some sort of moral imperative to build more houses and address affordability.  I’m not against residential growth.  But give me a good reason why.  Residential growth by itself is a cost to the community.   How will residential growth specifically help the EXISTING community?  I can imagine a number of ways…if UCD said they want to hire 50 new professors, researchers…etc…and said they’d prefer that they were able to live by….that would at lease anecdotally be a reason.  But basically if you want residential growth you should have LOCAL commercial economic growth FIRST.  So will someone (I dunno…city council leaders?) provide the data that supports the benefits for residential growth in Davis?  Otherwise Davis simply becomes a bedroom community that pays to fuel the economic development of surrounding communities and the greater Sacramento metro area with little benefit in return.

    Someone’s going to bring up the RHNA which requires housing to be built.  Eh, I know it got some teeth for enforcement back on 2017.  But it’s still up in the air.  Something like 50 or more cities are not in compliance with it and are looking to challenge it.  Many cities have mitigating factors (at least they claim them) that challenge the RHNA and the state’s ability and authority over local municipalities to govern their land use.  In Davis’ case; do the requirements take into consideration the influx of students that require housing and the offset that UCD’s proposed future housing plans and their impact on the city of Davis’ housing future needs?   Or in other words should the RHNA have any local say over things at all….or in the least in Davis’ case should the RHNA take into consideration student impact on housing in Davis as a mitigating circumstance.

    1. Don Shor

      Seems odd to have to explain why people need houses. I think the real question isn’t whether a city should encourage housing, but rather whether a particular community — say, Davis — should actively discourage housing as the residents have clearly sought to do over many years.
      People need to live in housing wherever there is commerce happening. If a region is growing, and one community chooses to decline to expand housing choices, it simply shunts the regional housing growth over to other communities. And the scarcity creates economic inequities and affects those on the lower ends of the economic ladder disproportionately. It costs a lot of money to live in one community and work in another one. Transportation becomes a significant cost for many workers.

      Residential growth by itself is a cost to the community.

      The purpose of housing is not to generate revenues for the city, it is to provide people with places to live. There is regional demand, developers are responding to that.

      I can imagine a number of ways…if UCD said they want to hire 50 new professors, researchers…etc…and said they’d prefer that they were able to live by….that would at lease anecdotally be a reason.

      UCD added something like 3000 faculty and staff in Chancellor Katehi’s 2020 initiative, along with the 5000+ students. Neither UC nor the city made any clear effort to plan for the demand that addition in staff would create. Woodland is doing a fine job of providing the housing for them, but that doesn’t seem like the most optimal approach for any number of reasons. UC added people, the voters of Davis declined to participate as much as possible in that expansion, so the balloon being squeezed bulged out in nearby communities. Do you consider that reasonable regional planning? The whole RHNA process is designed to deal with the regional population increase in s somewhat coordinated, more-or-less equitable manner. It never had teeth before, but now it does. Davis, by the way, got away with some amazingly low numbers in prior RHNA allotments.

      In Davis’ case; do the requirements take into consideration the influx of students that require housing and the offset that UCD’s proposed future housing plans and their impact on the city of Davis’ housing future needs?

      Sort of. That’s probably why Davis numbers were so low in the past. In prior discussions on this topic, nobody — including people who participate in the RHNA process — could explain the city’s numbers vs the rest of Yolo County’s.

      should the RHNA have any local say over things at all

      That ship has sailed. They didn’t before, really; now they kind of do, and I’d say the trend is toward more state intervention where local communities are resisting growth — especially if it is resulting in significant economic inequities. Do you prefer a lawsuit, or just going ahead and planning in an actual concrete manner for possible housing?

      1. Keith Y Echols

        Ah so you’re taking the fait accompli to housing.  “People need houses”.  Uh..okay….but they don’t have to have them here.

         If a region is growing, and one community chooses to decline to expand housing choices, it simply shunts the regional housing growth over to other communities. 

        So…uh…why is it bad to let other cities become bedroom communities?  If they choose to take on the burden….that’s their business.

         

         And the scarcity creates economic inequities and affects those on the lower ends of the economic ladder disproportionately. It costs a lot of money to live in one community and work in another one. Transportation becomes a significant cost for many workers.

        Yes, the horror of having to live in Woodland, West Sac, Dixon and Winters is unspeakable inequality.  I mean, I know Davis is Utopia, Shangri-La and the paragon of Yolo county cities…but maybe it’s just too awesome for some people who may need to live a little further away as to not be blinded by it’s brilliance.

        The purpose of housing is not to generate revenues for the city, it is to provide people with places to live. There is regional demand, developers are responding to that.

        So this is the root of your trouble with this subject.  The purpose of the city is to support and even improve the way of life for the residents in the city.  PLANNED RESIDENTIAL GROWTH BY THE CITY SHOULD HAPPEN IN SUPPORT OF IMPROVING THE WAY OF LIFE FOR THE EXISTING RESIDENTS.  Not some hippy dippy; let’s clutch our pearls, think of the children…and house everyone that needs a house (I’m still waiting for Maui to provide me an affordable home).

        Woodland is doing a fine job of providing the housing for them, but that doesn’t seem like the most optimal approach for any number of reasons. UC added people, the voters of Davis declined to participate as much as possible in that expansion, so the balloon being squeezed bulged out in nearby communities. Do you consider that reasonable regional planning? 

        Uh…yay for Woodland for taking on the burden of housing more people?  No this does not sound well planned out.  Again, I’m not dogmatically against residential growth.   The city should have considered (or maybe it did) the economic impact of housing the faculty and staff and weather it would be be a net benefit.  But it seems like the jobs are already here so there’s no need to go out of our way to support them with housing.

        That ship has sailed. They didn’t before, really; now they kind of do, and I’d say the trend is toward more state intervention where local communities are resisting growth

        As I said, there are still 50 some cities that are still not in compliance with the RHNA with many of them still fighting it.  Huntington Beach is again considering suing the state over this.  Besides, you could just zone some land next to the freeway (DISC?) that’s virtually detached from the city and would require it’s own service districts (so it doesn’t burden the existing infrastructure)….if the builders build there….fine…if not…eh, as far as the RHNA goes..it was planned for.

        I’m not asking for much.  Just a reason for planned residential growth.

        1. Keith Y Echols

          I was pretty clear in my initial post.  The primary goal of a city is to support and improve the way of life for it’s existing residents.  By itself new residential housing is a cost to the community.  It adds traffic, uses community services like police, fire..etc…requires streets/street maintenance…usually new local parklets are added which add to the parks and rec budget…etc…heavier uses at the libraries, public pools…etc….  Now some of this is offset with increased local spending in sales tax and a some from property taxes.  But unless you have a major commercial hub (which Davis does not), the money from local sales tax isn’t huge (groceries at Safeway don’t aren’t taxed).

          So if you’re going to add residential housing there needs to be a tangible benefit to offset the cost…generally economic development (support of some local business) or maybe the new development has an awesome new public park/rec facility added to it that the rest of the city can enjoy.  Maybe it directly or indirectly supports a hospital or the new development gets a neighborhood firehouse built in an area of the city that needs one.  Maybe a new residential development gets a new major water line or sewer treatment plant helped to be built that adds capacity for the rest of the city.  Maybe new residential development gets additional roads and mass transit services built/implemented in an area of the city that needs it.

          1. David Greenwald

            “The primary goal of a city is to support and improve the way of life for it’s existing residents. ”

            Not necessarily. I think that may be one goal, but there are a lot of goals including economic and fiscal sustainability and creating a community that is conducive to the values of the community, one of those goals might be to ensure future viability by not pricing vast segments of the population out of future residency. Your analysis thus begins with a far too simplistic and short-term calculation.

        2. Keith Y Echols

           but there are a lot of goals including economic and fiscal sustainability 

          I’ve been advocating for someone to provide the economic benefits of residential growth….even if it’s to support existing businesses or grow new ones.  So I’m not sure how that goal is any different than anything I’ve stated or asked for.

           creating a community that is conducive to the values of the community, one of those goals might be to ensure future viability by not pricing vast segments of the population out of future residency. 

          Now we’re getting to the “think of the children”/”hippy-dippy” reasoning.  I’d say the values of the community right now are to senselessly not build anything.   People becoming priced out of areas happens.  You can’t control the market.*  Where do you draw the line?  Home prices: $800K? $600K? $500K?  $400K?   Home Rentals: $2800? $2500? $1500?  Where do you draw the line and who’s income is worth enough for you to make a decision on who can and can’t live in the glorious city of Davis?  Who must endure the outer circles of hell of having to live in Woodland, Dixon, West Sac or Winters?  Do we just keep trying to build homes so that every person that wants to live here has a right to a home (in which case I’m still waiting for Maui to have an affordable home ready for me).

          *I believe affordable housing is an all together separate issue and should be treated separately from for market housing.  I believe that for profit affordable housing development is a problem in the current system and should not be looked to for solutions.  I believe inclusionary housing requirements are only band-aid that can be used as specific solutions for communities…like housing for teachers, police officers, first responders…etc…

           

           

           

  9. Alan Miller

    I think that may be one goal, but there are a lot of goals

    One might be not growing, keeping the value of rentals high, keeping out new people, requiring a vote to build on the periphery.  That’s one, too, for.

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