Commentary: We Needed Housing Then, We Need Housing Now, This UCD v. City Debate Doesn’t Address the Bottom Line

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By David M. Greenwald

Davis, CA – Lost in a lot of extra-curricular discussion this week is the fact that the university this week reached two major milestones in actually fulfilling their promised housing expansion.

The university completed The Green at West Village and will now break ground on work on the Orchard Park housing development.

“These important milestones on Orchard Park and The Green at West Village are helping to fill a critical need for on-campus housing,” said UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May. “This is a big win for students, the university and our surrounding communities. It’s all thanks to close collaboration with the city of Davis, Yolo County and our development partners.”

The university therefore completed what they said they would, and did it really on time.  Given their track record—which is definitely deserved in this respect—this is an important accomplishment.

The next piece will be Orchard Park, which will include almost 1,600 beds in just over 600 apartment units and community facilities for both single graduate students and for families.

Orchard Park will be open for tenants in fall 2023.

“It will make a substantial difference for graduate students,” said Jonathan Minnick, president of the UC Davis Graduate Student Association. “A significant percentage of each cohort of graduate students will have the opportunity to live on campus.”

These developments invariably lead to the inevitable university versus city housing discussion.  That part did not disappoint either.

Personally I think there are advantages to housing both on campus and off campus.  I have had repeated conversations with various students who actually like the idea of being able to stay on campus for two years, but almost none like the idea of remaining on campus all four of the years.

One of our commenters asked “is that a valid reason for the city to pursue megadorms, and the various types of costs/impacts those entail?”

Another responded with “the valid reason for the city to pursue more student housing was that we didn’t have enough housing at the time.”

Personally I think the city has taken the right approach with regard to student housing.  First of all, while student housing wasn’t the only need in the city, it was not only the most pressing need at the time, starting in 2015, but you could also say its shortages were also driving other housing shortfalls for other groups.

Second, this is not an either/or situation.

Between the university’s efforts and the city’s efforts, enough housing for students has been put into the pipeline that moving our focus to other housing needs now makes sense.  But at the time of approval, and even now, housing was so scarce for students that it absolutely was a necessity.

But to me the more interesting comment was the next one: “Why should the city be obligated to plan for housing and provide services for UCD’s revenue producing assets?”

I really don’t see it that way.  The city has never been obligated.  The city has, however, made the choice.  First, through its duly elected councilmembers and then through a vote of the people—who overwhelmingly approved over 2000 beds at Nishi.

We start getting into a pretty interesting discussion where one commenter argues: “A city should only take on new housing IF it in some way benefits the EXISTING residents.”

But, as I point out, benefits are subjective.  And who gets to decide?  Obviously right now the council does, with the voters not only getting to elect individual council members but also getting to vote on the back end in the form of a Measure J vote.

Clearly the commenter has a very narrow view of benefit, as he countered: “What do you mean ‘no objective answer’?   Compare the projected tax revenue compared to the projected costs.  Or whatever else new development can net the city (a new park, fire station, library, public pool…etc..).  If the tangible benefit outweighs the costs…we have a winner!”

I’m sorry, but that’s not how I exclusively weigh benefit.  I view having sufficient student housing so that students aren’t forced to sleep in cars and on couches as a benefit.  I view having the cost of housing affordable for families as a benefit.  I view having a community that does not start looking like a wealthy enclave from the Bay Area as a benefit.  I view living in a vibrant and engaged community as a benefit.

But there is another problem here: the commenter believes that housing is also a net fiscal loss.  That means by tying housing decisions to direct fiscal calculations you end up in a place where cities should never add residential housing.

That’s probably a conclusion that some reading this agree with—whether they will state it publicly is another matter, but it remains to me impractical.

The commenter then had the temerity to suggest that my comments “are absolutely absurd” when, in fact, I’m simply pointing out the natural conclusion of the line of thinking.

Elsewhere I have pointed out that the city has taken steps to address costs.  But at some point, what we are looking at is not the additional costs of housing but rather the increased costs of city employees and city services.

While I think we can do better to contain future costs and mitigate the impacts of development on city coffers, I don’t believe for a moment that fiscal impact should be driving our housing policy.  Ultimately, cities are here to supply housing for people and provide basic services and amenities to support a high quality of life.

I don’t agree that that should be only for current residents.  In fact, cities in a lot of ways are the opposite of the view that current needs rule.  We live in houses that we did not build and build houses that we will never live in.  We plan roads that we will never drive on and drink from wells that we did not dig.

We are not just planning for us, but planning for our children and our children’s children and future generations that we will never meet.

At the end of the day, I continue to believe that it is silly to look at lines on a map and determine that we can build here and not there.  Rather, I would argue that we should identify needs and figure out who best and who most easily can address those needs.

—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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80 thoughts on “Commentary: We Needed Housing Then, We Need Housing Now, This UCD v. City Debate Doesn’t Address the Bottom Line”

  1. Matt Williams

    But there is another problem here: the comment believes that housing is also a net fiscal loss.  That means by tying housing decisions to direct fiscal calculations you end up in a place where cities should never add residential housing.

    If you go to the Strong Towns website, published by Chuck Mahron Who has spoken here in Davis at a forum. The answer to the fiscal issue is to charge the developers enough money so that they cover the expenses of theNew development that they are creating. The drawback many .see in that approach is that it makes new housing all the more expensive …  all the more unaffordable.

      1. Matt Williams

        The recent study completed by the Financeand Budget Commission shows that the City has consistently year after year after year been unable to do that.  What makes you think the City has changed its approach to cost containment,

        Chuck Mahron’s analysis also shows that cities all across the US fail to include in the fees they charge developers any amortization of the replacement costs of infrastructure when it reaches the end of its useful life.  Asa result the cities are stuck with those replacement costs, but with no revenue/money to pay for those costs.  That has clearly been the case here in Davis.

        1. Tim Keller

          He also points out that new developments are  a Ponzi scheme… the new development fees and taxes pay for the old, money-losing developments.    So that being the case, if someone states that they wantnew developments to be a direct benefit for existing residents… you have your answer.  🙂

          ( its a bad answer, and the wrong reason to build something… but it IS how most communities upkeep their infrastructure )

        2. Richard_McCann

          Tim’s point highlights the real issue–the unwillingness of property owners to tax themselves at the true cost of upkeep. The huge disparities between parcels created by Prop 13 is a case in point. Anyone who’s lived in the same house for 30 years has no basis to complain–we were already deficits in 1978 and it’s only gotten worse.

    1. Richard_McCann

      Land prices are residual to the economic returns generated from the property. That’s why the real estate market collapsed in 2007–income didn’t support the prices. Land prices will decrease if development costs rise. The response won’t be immediate, but they will adjust.

  2. Matt Williams

    I’m sorry but that’s not how I exclusively weigh benefit.  I view having sufficient student housing so that students aren’t forced to sleep in cars and on couches as a benefit.

    The logical response David will get to that statement is that it is clearly a benefit to the students, and clearly a benefit to UCD, but is it’s benefit to the City?  Further, is there any reason why that benefit can not be provided on campus.

    Further, UCD has met its commitment to the City new students, but where does it stand on its past commitment to the Regents to house40% of all UCD students on campus?

    1. Richard_McCann

      David is dead on right about all of the other benefits created by UCD. (One other not listed–the huge educational benefit we gain at low cost by having highly educated parents who are faculty and staff at UCD.) But I disagree that we are not obligated to provide housing and other services to those learning and working at UCD. State taxpayers have invested billions of dollars here that roll through to local benefits in many ways, including the very character of this town. We are obligated to state taxpayers to provide the community support for UCD in exchange. If anyone is unwilling to accept that obligation, they can move to another community that isn’t incurring those responsibilities passed to them by the other citizens in the state.

      As for building housing, I’ll repeat my recent comment–the public sector should not be providing products and services that are provided much better by the private sector. UC hasn’t shown an ability to be a great landlord. We should only have public agencies provide such goods and services where there’s clear market failures–housing isn’t one of them.

       

  3. Don Shor

    Is housing a net fiscal loss for cities and states?

    https://www.mhp.net/writable/resources/documents/Cost_Benefit_new_housing_3-15-16.pdf

    ABSTRACT Frequently, local opposition to new housing development is based on fiscal concerns. Previous research (Nakosteen et al., 2003; Nakajima et al., 2007; Burnet et al., 2012) has found that these concerns are frequently misplaced since they assume that the additional expenses will be equal to per capita local cost associated with new residents, particularly the costs associated with K-12 education, rather than the marginal cost. This working paper builds upon this work by revisiting six of the eight communities examined by Nakajima et al. (2007) and examining whether the state fiscal impacts of new housing development are large enough to offset negative local fiscal impacts when they do occur.

    Our analysis of these six cases finds that, in the aggregate, the six new developments generated considerably more state tax revenue than any actual local revenue shortfalls. Overall, we find that only 31 percent of the net new state tax revenue generated by the developments would be needed to completely offset the negative fiscal impacts experienced by three of the six communities. This suggests that the positive state fiscal benefits of new housing development are more than sufficient to support a state fund to guarantee that communities will be made financially whole in the event they allow the development of housing that meets regional and statewide needs, but find themselves fiscally disadvantaged as a result. These findings also imply that more thoughtful and evidence-based local and regional planning could minimize the chance of negative local fiscal outcomes associated with new housing development.

    1. Matt Williams

      Don, the issue of Marginal Cost is the exact issue that the Finance and Budget Commission subcommittee studied.  The subcommittee’s report can be read HERE.   What the study, which analyzed Budget data from over 300 cities, was that consistently, year after year after year, for Davis the marginal cost of new residents actually exceeds the Budgeted costs of existing residents.

      There were cities in the FBC subcommittee study that did fit the description in the Abstract you have provided … Roseville and Folsom were two examples … but Davis was clearly not one of them.  The graph below shows the budgeted cost per resident over time for Davis.

      https://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Screen-Shot-2021-06-21-at-6.46.57-AM.png 

      For comparison, here are the graphs of Cost per resident for Roseville and Folsom.

      https://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Screen-Shot-2021-06-21-at-7.06.38-AM.png 

       

       

    2. Alan Pryor

      This suggests that the positive state fiscal benefits of new housing development are more than sufficient to support a state fund to guarantee that communities will be made financially whole in the event they allow the development of housing that meets regional and statewide needs, but find themselves fiscally disadvantaged as a result.

      So the key point here is that the state makes more money on local development that does the local community but that the local community could be made whole if only the state would give enough of the money they collected right back to the affected local community.

      Ha!…..Fat chance of that happening!

      1. Richard_McCann

        Actually all sorts of arrangements have been made in the past to compensate local entities from state funds. We can start with the revenue swap in 1979 to fix the tax hole created by Prop 13. There’s been several other property/sales tax swap arrangements. Redevelopment was another until cities abused the option by allowing gains by developers at the cost of other property owners. Given the saliency of the need for new housing development and the state’s budget surplus, I can see a similar arrangement once the Legislature is made more aware of this issue. I suggest talking to Bill Dodd about this solution.

        1. Bill Marshall

          ERAF… Excess ERAF: A Review of the Calculations Affecting School Funding

          Yet, with the CA budget surplus, who gets the excess ERAF from property tax?  Educations/schools, other “goodies” to ‘politically correct’ initiatives… and again relieving the State from the 1978 and prior realities… where Cities, Counties had the ‘lion’s share’, and education was primarily financed via other ‘State’ revenues…

          Local agencies (except school districts/UC, etc.) never have healed from that…

        2. Don Shor

          Sen. Dodd is indeed the person to bring in to this discussion IMO.
          28 towns, cities, and counties in the Bay Area are appealing their ABAG RHNA numbers, so far.
          https://airtable.com/shrQg07quzX8DN6fg/tblAvQe5FgRPZNMMb
          The state is effectively telling cities that they have to plan to grow. While the city costs don’t appear to be the basis for the appeals, it is certainly a consideration that communities are being told to add housing without dealing with the added costs of that housing. If in fact some state revenues could be redistributed on an ongoing basis, it could be the basis for some funding for affordable housing. That might make the process of actually zoning and planning for that housing more palatable to some of those cities.

        3. Ron Oertel

          The state itself is no longer growing, and places like San Francisco have actually been losing population.

          State politicians are trying to force the issue, regardless.  Perhaps they’re the problem – in which case, the long-term solution is obvious.

          Start by looking at “who” is funding them, and their friends in the YIMBY movement. (Who strangely enough – given their arguments, appear to mostly be “white” people.)

  4. Keith Y Echols

    David, once again you’re twisting my words.

    I said your comments were absurd because of your following statement:

    . And since you believe that housing is a net fiscal loser, it works out that you believe that cities should never add residential housing. Clearly impractical.

    Your comment was absurd because in that very comments section I SUGGESTED A STUDENT FRIENDLY HOUSING IDEA.  

    My comments about residential housing are not about UCD vs. the city.   No, I do not believe the city has any obligation to house students.  But I do not believe they have any obligation to housing anyone in market rate housing.

    No, David our disagreement is over the fact that you believe that students are some special unicorn that need protection.  You like many others seem to believe that the city has some obligation to UCD to house it’s revenue producing assets.  Students are just like anyone else.  If they can afford to live here then by all means live here.  If they can’t, live somewhere else.  Many people have moved around because they can’t live where they want.  Do you think someone that gets a job at Stanford can automatically live in Palo Alto?

    UCD builds residential housing if it pays for itself.  In the very least shouldn’t the city do the same?

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I think the problem is that your logic is problematic. The city through it’s political process has chosen to add housing. In the case of Nishi, the voters by a large margin consented to that course of action.

      “UCD builds residential housing if it pays for itself. In the very least shouldn’t the city do the same?”

      I think the city should build housing if it believes it needs housing irrespective of whether it pays for itself or not.

      1. Keith Y Echols

        David: I think the problem is that your logic is problematic. The city through it’s political process has chosen to add housing. In the case of Nishi, the voters by a large margin consented to that course of action.

        There’s nothing wrong with my logic.  Once again you’re not reading my comments but answering them anyway.  Here was my reply the first time you mentioned the city’s decision:

        Keith: Well, I’ve said many times what I think about the inmates running the asylum here.  I was answering for how a PROPERLY run city should make it’s decisions.  Telling me that the city council and the voters make the decisions is a rather captain obvious statement to make.  If the past four years have taught us anything, it’s that the electorate can make some colossally stupid decisions.

        Like I said, I’m not here to talk about what the city is doing.  I’m here to say what I think the city should be doing.  I’m pretty sure that’s what most here are doing.

        David: I THINK THE CITY SHOULD SUPPLY HOUSING IF IT BELIEVES IT NEEDS HOUSING IRRESPECTIVE OF WHETHER IT PAYS FOR ITSELF OR NOT.  

        Wow.  Why should the city be altruistic and UCD be pragmatic about residential growth?  Given that a significant portion of the city’s population are students…yet the students pay UCD…not the city.   Also, doesn’t UCD get state money too to run the school?  Yet the city should just plan for new residential construction because students want live here?

        Obviously,  the city doesn’t “supply housing”.  So by your logic, you’re telling everyone/community should just assume the burden of new housing?  WHY?  I guess the better question is what is this “need” and how do you define it?  Does everyone who wants to live here get to live here?  Seriously, in your world…should a prospective resident just go to the city offices and say: “I want to live here” and the city should figure out a way for that person to live here?

        1. Richard_McCann

          Does everyone who wants to live here get to live here? 

          When our current housing policy leads to continued racial segregation because Black households have only 10% of the wealth that white ones do, then we give up the ability to claim self interest as a defense. In order to achieve justice in our society, we need to provide truly equal opportunities of access. That doesn’t exist now.

        2. Keith Y Echols

          When our current housing policy leads to continued racial segregation because Black households have only 10% of the wealth that white ones do,

          Okay…I’m not sure when this discussion took a hard left turn at the race justice intersection….but okay….

          I mean if it’s a race issue how do you administrate it?  Simplistically planning to build houses until prices drop so that everyone can afford them isn’t going to work (and will never happen).  So do we start an affirmative action policy on local home ownership and rentals in town?

          Wouldn’t it make more sense to address this issue by figuring out ways to increase black household wealth?  Education, mentorship, business investment, social support programs….etc…

    2. Tim Keller

      Keith,

      I had previously commented that we should build all of this student housing in town because it would be good for us economically, you disagreed, and when I did my research, I found that not only were you were right – but I had been naive.

      New development, especially single-family development is a financial loser for a variety of issues.  I had assumed that “of course cities would be balancing their budget on rational costs of these things over time, charging appropriate taxes to cover costs”…. that was where I was naive on that point, and I really value the enhanced understanding I have of these issues now.  So thank you for pushing back at me.

      But there is a corollary question that I would be interested to hear your opinion on:   At what point does new development become net-positive for the city?   I have seen mention online that high-density, poorer neighborhoods actually tend to subsidize R1 neighborhoods in many cities, so I assume that there is some point where density allows the equation to balance.

      If there IS a crossover point in terms of density where reasonable property taxes ARE able to pay for the marginal costs ( if not more ) should we not be aiming all new development at those levels of density – at a minimum?  Whether it be infill, redevelopment, or greenfield projects?

      Interested to hear your thoughts.

      1. Keith Y Echols

        I can’t dive into weeds at this point on this subject.  I will think about it and get back to you.  While I believe myself to be fairly knowledgeable on the subject, I am no expert on municipal administration…at least not this fine of a level.  However, I have friends that are former developers that are now urban planners in other cities or former urban planners that are now developers….with master’s degrees in urban planning and I often talk to them and will discuss your questions (these friends sometimes read my comments here for amusement).

        But just spit balling here’s an idea I had in the comments section of another article.

        I think if the city can capitalize on the student community; encouraging student housing (under controlled circumstances) might be a good idea.  I think if the city zoned the areas between 1st and 3rd and A & B streets as high density mixed use residential…it could work.  The city could enter into an agreement with UCD over the sharing of provided services (UCD police for example).  The area is next to the University so parking wouldn’t be as much of an issue as are road/infrastructure support costs less of an issue (and again can be shared to a degree with UCD…if obviously they were agreeable).  But how does this benefit the city?  By creating a destination entertainment area.  This town has no (few) bars or much entertainment.  In the mixed use high density residential zone; create an entertainment commercial zone.  Lots of cheap eats, live music, dancing…etc…all that stuff young people like to do.  Do that and you attract youngsters from Vacaville, Dixon, Woodland, West Sac, Sac…etc…  you bring people here to spend their money.

         

        1. Tim Keller

          I like it.   Though I know that the residents of Rice lane ( in particular) have killed proposals for a bar at that site at 1st and B…  in the past And the rest of the people who live in that particular block tend to be old-school davis gentry, business owners.. at least one former mayor…

          Might be a tough sell for THAT neighborhood…  but I like the idea in general.    I don’t think that converting downtown and the space between campus to G st to Paris-like density wouldn’t be a bad goal, but you would need 50 years or so for enough properties to turn over to get there.

          Look forward to hearing your thoughts.    Feel free to contact me offline anytime.

      2. Mark West

        The simple answer to this question is that you cannot have a balance point unless the City implements cost controls. The development fees should be set to cover all of the City’s direct costs for the new development and the City should then operate within the expanded budget allowed by the increment in the property tax (etc) from the development. That approach provides the balance point. If the City’s costs (primarily payroll) rise faster than the new revenues, then the result will be net negative. The problem though is not that housing necessarily results in net negative revenue, it is that the City’s rising costs are not in any way constrained or contained.

        Poor fiscal management is why housing is a net negative for cities.

      3. Don Shor

        At what point does new development become net-positive for the city? I have seen mention online that high-density, poorer neighborhoods actually tend to subsidize R1 neighborhoods in many cities,

        That seems very unlikely. More people (higher density) = higher costs to the city for services. Lower density, high-end housing probably pencils out for cities at some point on the curve. Several years ago the comment was made on here that the break-even point for a city was about $600K home value. Obviously both city costs per capita and home value averages have increased. The question is whether the disparity has increased.

        1. Richard_McCann

          Again, I’ll point back to Urban3 that has done presentations in Davis on how to create fiscally net positive development: 
          https://www.urbanthree.com/ Higher density actually leads to lower service costs.

          As for revenues, property values have far outstripped tax revenues as property owners have appropriated public benefits by underpaying for public services. It also turns out to be much more expensive to replace buried infrastructure than to install it new, especially if it was installed long ago with little thought about replacement (Energy utilities cost about 10 times more to replace than new in a “greenfield.”) New installations thought ahead, which may be why in part per capita costs are falling for cities like Roseville and Folsom that grew a lot later than Davis.

           

          1. Don Shor

            Higher density actually leads to lower service costs.

            Per capita? Per square foot? (The link just goes to their website.)
            It would be great to get some actual numbers on this topic. It is frequently said on here that housing costs more than it yields. Matt’s numbers show that some cities manage this dynamic well and others don’t. So what’s the difference? What are the key factors that can be managed or mitigated or, at least, planned for?
            I recall that, at least with recently-valued property for tax purposes, there is actually an upper price range where the net is positive for the city. To be clear, I don’t think that should form the basis of our planning decisions. I just would like to clarify what costs the city more or less in services, what yields more or less in revenues, and what the parameters are.

          1. Don Shor

            So that article only tells one part of the story: the rather obvious fact that a multi-family project on a lot yields more property tax revenue for the city than a single-family home on a comparable lot, simply because the m-f home is worth more.
            It doesn’t answer the question of what the per-capita costs of the city services are for the two properties.
            The question is what is the net balance to the city of revenues vs costs for the different types of residences.

        2. Tim Keller

          I think the answer is that the city’s costs are not per capita, they are per linear foot.   Linear foot of road, or of water or sewer pipe…

          serve 8x more people on the same block while paving and bringing utilities the same distance…  your per capita costs go way down.

          ‘’sure, in that scenario  those pipes you run might need to be wider…  but I’m guessing that the cost of getting a crew there, digging a ditch etc are 95% of the costs.   If you put in a 8” pipe instead of a 6” one, probably makes very little cost difference.

          Police and fire are the same… it’s about distance from response…   and parks are similar too.  You only want to have a couple within walking distance…  they aren’t resources that tend to get ‘used up”

          So it makes absolute sense to me.

        3. Matt Williams

          Don asks the right question, “The question is what is the net balance to the city of revenues vs costs for the different types of residences.”

          The City has has a pretty good idea of what its revenues are from the different residence proposals it has received, but for the most part has only a guesstimate of what its costs are from those same projects.

          The City has argued over the past 15 years (since Covell Village and Measure X) that the per resident costs for each project are 75% of the costs per resident in the most recent City Budgets. There was, and currently is, considerable disagreement within the Finance and Budget Commission on that 75% number.

          Dan Carson, while he was on FBC argued that 75% was too high.  He wanted the percentage to go down, which would result in lower projected costs and higher projected revenues.

          Ray Salomon argued that 75% was too low, because he believed the City’s history of raising personnel costs meant that no costs were fixed, and the generous raises that Council gives City employees means 100% of the costs per resident in the most recent City Budgets.

          Ezra Beeman and I both felt that the substantial amount of deferred roads and greenbelts and buildings maintenance needs to be included.  They are real costs, we both argued, but because of the deficiency of Revenues they aren’t included in each year’s  Budget.

          FBC formally recommended to Council in its June meeting that

          based on the analysis completed by the Finance & Budget Commission sub-committee, which provides sufficient evidence that the current 75% marginal cost assumption is unlikely to be correct, that they commission an independent, expert consultant to develop a default marginal cost valuation methodology to use expect in cases where a project specific analysis has been completed by the developer. The Finance & Budget Commission makes this motion in the interest of ensuring that major project economic analysis is as accurate as reasonably possible.

          .
          Further, as part of the FBC meeting packet, the City’s Finance Director stated

          For the proposed recommendation related to usage of the 100% of average cost instead of 75%, I suggest that instead the policy would be to provide scenarios presented at two levels of the of average cost (100% vs. 75%) to demonstrate the impact.

  5. Alan Miller

    The commenter then had the temerity to suggest that my comments “are absolutely absurd” when, in fact, I’m simply pointing out the natural conclusion of the line of thinking.

    What “my comments”?  These articles that are based on someone’s comments from a previous day are absurd, especially when the comments commented on aren’t referenced.

    Ultimately, cities are here to supply housing for people and provide basic services and amenities to support a high quality of life.

    Supply housing?

    We live in houses that we did not build and build houses that we will never live in.  We plan roads that we will never drive on and drink from wells that we did not dig.

    We have brains that we will never use and livers that we will never transplant.

    We are not just planning for us, but planning for our children and our children’s children and future generations that we will never meet.

    I sure hope our children’s children aren’t as annoying as we are.

    I continue to believe that it is silly to look at lines on a map and determine that we can build here and not there.

    Much better to build anywhere and everywhere.  The above is the slogan for the Anti-zoning Advocates of America.  Hello Houston!

    ‘Rather, I would argue that we should identify needs and figure out who best and who most easily can address those needs.

    “Anyone should be able to afford to live in Davis”   —        Yeah, right.

        1. Alan Miller

          old curmudgeon conservatives

          Pejorative in comments violation.  Sterilize comments.  What’s good for the commenter is good for the blogger.  Sterilize comments.

        2. Keith Olsen

          Training the next generation of writers to annoy old curmudgeon conservatives.

          LOL, or maybe keeping the next generation of writers from being know-it-all-wanna-be-political-hacks?

  6. Ron Oertel

    The purpose of my original comment (in the other article that David is referencing) was to show that new housing on campus (in the form of The Greens) offered less-expensive rent than new housing in the city (Sterling), which is the opposite of what’s been claimed on this blog.

    Given that this is only one example, we can see if this holds true going forward (regarding new housing).

    Ultimately, if it’s too expensive (on campus, or off), it won’t attract tenants.  That’s how supply and demand works.  (That’s also just starting to occur in the broader housing market itself, as folks simply aren’t willing to, or cannot pay inflated prices beyond a certain point.  As a result, they apparently stay wherever they are. Also, some apparently/subsequently rent from corporations which are purchasing single-family housing in mass. (Perhaps even renting the same house that they put an offer on, earlier.)

    In regard to the statistic cited below, it appears that 64% of UCD resident freshman students would have no trouble paying market-rate rent, regardless.  (This doesn’t even include non-resident students who also apparently have access to money.)

    About 45% of all admitted California freshmen have low family income. UC Davis and UCLA tied for the lowest rate of admitted students with low family income, 36%, and UC Merced had the highest rate of 58%.

    https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/UC-system-admits-its-largest-most-diverse-16324743.php

     

    1. Craig Ross

      “The purpose of my original comment (in the other article that David is referencing) was to show that new housing on campus (in the form of The Greens) offered less-expensive rent than new housing in the city (Sterling), which is the opposite of what’s been claimed on this blog.”

      But a lot more than housing in most places.  I mean they are charging $1000 per month to share a room.  That’s not inexpensive.  In way by comparing Sterling to Greens, it’s not apples to apples.

      1. Ron Oertel

        The cost is $764/month, for a shared room.  ($9,168 / 12.)  I believe that the meal plan is optional.

        https://housing.ucdavis.edu/_pdf/s/2021-the-green-apartments-fee-schedule.pdf

        I’m assuming that both on-campus and off-campus apartments generally require a 12-month commitment.

        For sure, I’d try to eat at that great facility they have on campus, which is open to anyone – including non-students (and offers great food, at a great price). I’ve forgotten the name of it, but it has an excellent reputation beyond the campus, as well.

         

        1. Ron Oertel

          I see that there’s a difference between the “annual fee”, vs. “quarterly payments”.  I don’t know the reason for that. (I assume it’s because unlike apartments in the city, they don’t require a full-year lease.)

          Either way, it’s significantly cheaper than Sterling. Even more so, if they don’t require a full-year lease.)

          https://www.sterlinghousing.com/davis-ca/sterling-5th-street/floor-plans

          (My final comment in this article, today.)

        2. Craig Ross

          A shared room in Green is $3056 per quarter, $9168 for the year.  3 * $3056 is $9168.  Therefore it’s for three quarters or 9 months not twelve.  You can’t even admit your math was wrong

          There are no shared rooms in Sterling.

          You are accusing others of being wrong but don’t know the facts here.  This is not an apples to apples comparison.

        3. Craig Ross

          To fill out the math for those who aren’t Ron…

          For a shared room at the greens is just over $1000 per month

          For a single at the greens – which means a single occupancy shared apartment – $1500

          For a studio – it’s $2248 per months

           

          THIS IS NOT CHEAPER THAN STERLING and far more expensive than most rooms in Davis.

          Stop making stop up Ron.

        4. Ron Oertel

          To clarify, my math wasn’t “wrong” – I just hadn’t noticed that there was a difference between the quarterly payments vs. the annual fee, due to the fact that The Greens doesn’t require a full-year lease.

          The rates are quite similar overall, when taking that into account.  Thanks for pointing it out.

          So for those students who don’t need to be in Davis over the summer, The Greens might be a better choice.

           

           

           

           

        5. Craig Ross

          To clarify, you said it was $764 per month, it’s actually over $1000, that’s a big a mistake and it changes your entire point.

          Second, Sterling actually isn’t the best comparable.  Sterling is brand new.  You can rent stuff in town for a lot cheaper than that.  Some people can afford to rent for more.  Sterling serves that group.  Those who are looking for cheap alternatives can go to an older place or a rent a room or a couch in a house.  I used to get by on $400 per month for example, because I didn’t care, I just wanted a place to sleep.

        6. Ron Oertel

          Like I said, good catch.

          They’re both new developments. Again, the comparison wasn’t in regard to some guy crashing on a couch in a minidorm.

          Sterling charges a minimum of $1,229/person.

        7. Ron Oertel

          True, some might consider that a disadvantage.

          So the most accurate comparison would be to compare the price of a single room (which is more at The Green), or a single unit (which is about the same).

          But Sterling requires a full-year lease, for all of its leases (less approximately 2 weeks, at the end of the period).  (I just checked.)  So for those students who don’t need to be in Davis over the summer (for example), The Greens would be a better choice.

          In any case, I won’t claim that the per-month rent is “cheaper” at The Greens, for the same period of time (e.g., over an entire calendar year).  And again, thanks for pointing it out.

          Let’s see how it goes with other developments (such as Lincoln 40), in the future. I believe that they will offer shared rooms.

        8. Richard_McCann

          To clarify, my math wasn’t “wrong” – I just hadn’t noticed that there was a difference between the quarterly payments vs. the annual fee, due to the fact that The Greens doesn’t require a full-year lease.

          This is amazing, even when Ron O is caught with an obvious math mistake, he still can’t bring himself to admit that he was wrong….

        9. Ron Oertel

          Richard and Craig:

          Like I said, I had only looked at the annual fee, and ignored quarterly breakdown which shows that the The Green does not require a full year lease. (Thereby saving a great deal of money, for those who would otherwise be subject to an unwanted full year lease at places like Sterling.)

          In any case, I was wrong, and I’m very, very sorry about that.  I beg for your forgiveness.  🙂

  7. Ron Oertel

     

    I sure hope our children’s children aren’t as annoying as we are.

    They ALWAYS are, in this country at least.  Boomers were probably the worst, back in the day. Maybe even now.

    And, each generation “forgets” this as they become curmudgeons themselves, in the eyes of their children.  O.K., fellow boomer?  🙂

    Damn whipper-snappers and their cell phones, video games, self-centeredness, etc. Also, get off my lawn!

  8. Ron Oertel

    David:  I think the city should build housing if it believes it needs housing irrespective of whether it pays for itself or not.

    By definition, that means that “someone else” would pay for it.  Which obviously isn’t happening in Davis or in most other California cities.  Hence, the fiscal deficits in cities across the state.

     

    1. Keith Y Echols

      I think David should post that comment as banner for all of his future housing articles.

      And, each generation “forgets” this as they become curmudgeons themselves, in the eyes of their children.  O.K., fellow boomer?  

      I’m not a boomer.  But does being politically right of the Davis community make me a boomer?

      There’s an old saying that many people start out as liberal/progressive democrats in their youth.  Then they make some money and then become Republicans.  There’s a seed of truth to that.  It’s all well and good when you’re advocating for progressive change when it’s someone else’s money.  10-15 years goes by you buy a house, have some kids and you say: “Wait! You  want me to pay for what?”

      In all the places I’ve lived, I’ve been considered at times a “lefty” a liberal or a practical liberal.  It wasn’t until I moved to Davis that I found I might be considered an ” old curmudgeon conservative(s)”.  What politically red conservative area did I move from?  One where I was considered relatively liberal?  One where the city politics IMO are saner than Davis?………..San Francisco.

      1. Keith Olsen

        There’s an old saying that many people start out as liberal/progressive democrats in their youth.  Then they make some money and then become Republicans. 

        I’ve heard it put this way:

        “If you aren’t a liberal when you’re young, you have no heart, but if you aren’t a middle-aged conservative, you have no head.”

        1. Don Shor

          Generally attributed to Winston Churchill: “Any man under 30 who is not a liberal has no heart, and any man over thirty who is not a conservative has no brains.”

      2. Ron Oertel

        Given that you’re a fellow cartoon fan, you might find this amusing (when Leela suddenly becomes a millionaire):

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVf2fuX4XeY

        But in my case, I’ve always been a slow-growther, as I saw what was happening in the North Bay (in particular) which caused it to arise.  Burned-into my youthful self.

        Truth be told, most of the valley isn’t “nice enough” for folks to care about, in regard to that.  Davis is somewhat of an exception.

        But everyone does care about traffic, water supply, etc.  And the new generation (supposedly) cares about climate change.

    1. Bill Marshall

      That seemed obvious… after reviewing the ‘policies and rules’ of the VG this morning, seemed like it (limitation) never existed… definitely not in practice… where it was acknowledged that the ‘limitation’ could “flex” if it was demonstrated it was adding to the discussion, and was ‘civil’ (‘eye of the beholder’ thingy)…

      There is a nuance that shows up frequently in comments… 67% ‘contributing’, with “snotty”, uncivil, ‘troll-like’ comments embedded within the 67% ‘contributing’ post…

      No answers, just identifying the issues… but, I opine, the VG should give serious consideration to take this into account, and consider incorporation into the “policy and rules” promulgated on the appropriate VG site.

      Doing it “thread by thread”, may cause unintended consequences…

      The limitation looked like a knee-jerk “executive order”, but sometimes that’s necessary… to squelch problematic behavior… to achieve a goal…

       

  9. Ron Oertel

    Five-comment limitation is waived for this thread.

    Cool!

    Please keep it civil, folks.

    It usually starts out that way.

    Richard:  “When our current housing policy leads to continued racial segregation because Black households have only 10% of the wealth that white ones do, then we give up the ability to claim self interest as a defense. In order to achieve justice in our society, we need to provide truly equal opportunities of access. That doesn’t exist now.

    Great – so steps must be taken, to ensure that housing costs are only 10% of what they are today.  Sounds like a “reasonable goal”.

    (Hope there’s not another “math error” embedded in that observation.)  🙂

    Not sure where anyone claimed “self-interest” as a defense in the first place, or even what that means.
     

    1. Keith Y Echols

      Not sure where anyone claimed “self-interest” as a defense in the first place, or even what that means.

      I claimed it by wanting new housing to provide a tangible benefit to the existing community.  I guess by my being part of said community it’s in my self interest too?

      Great – so steps must be taken, to ensure that housing costs are only 10% of what they are, today.  Sounds like a “reasonable goal”.

      No, if we’re going with “reasonable goals”, you’d have to reduce housing costs by 90% to make it fair and equitable (and I’m quite certain I’ve made a math error or three).

       

      1. Bill Marshall

        At to the comments Keith Echols cites and responds to…

        Self interest is critical to democracy… secular sector… might be contrary to poitical/ethical/moral… philosophical/faith sector… 1 pt for Keith Echols…

        No, Keith Echols, I think what some feel are “reasonable goals”, it would be to,

        reduce housing costs by 90% for any “non-whites” to make it fair and equitable…

        And some believe the only fair “justice” thing would be to confiscate wealth to remedy

        because Black households have only 10% of the wealth that white ones do, 

        wealth from white households, above the average in wealth, to even things out not just for “Blacks” (interesting that was the only ethnic group singled out, and completely ignored how many other ‘minority’, white households are “below average”… some ‘minority’ households have far more wealth than ‘white’ ones)…

        ‘Equal opportunity’ is one thing… ‘equal results’ quite another… and yes I fully understand that “economic” realities can influence “opportunities”… some equate the two…

        To use some silly examples ~100% of folk that experience pregnancy (deep down and personal) are women (with all its risks and costs)… is that “just”?  A very high % of those who develop Sickle Cell Anemia, are Black (with all its risks and costs)… unjust?  Tay-Sachs… primarily ethnic Jews (with all its risks and costs)… unjust?  High % of CF stricken folk are ‘white’ (with all its risks and costs)… unjust?  Families with Down syndrome (with all its risks and costs)… no idea of ethnic incidence, but I strongly suspect it is unequal… unjust?

        Al all situations I mentioned, affect family ‘costs’ which are pertinent to housing costs… different, but same as to ‘wealth’…

  10. Ron Glick

    “When our current housing policy leads to continued racial segregation because Black households have only 10% of the wealth that white ones do, then we give up the ability to claim self interest as a defense.”

    LOL. For many in Davis nothing will ever make them give up the ability to claim self interest as a defense.

  11. Ron Oertel

    Don:  28 towns, cities, and counties in the Bay Area are appealing their ABAG RHNA numbers, so far.

    https://airtable.com/shrQg07quzX8DN6fg/tblAvQe5FgRPZNMMb

    Yeah, and that’s just in the Bay Area.

    The state is effectively telling cities that they have to plan to grow. While the city costs don’t appear to be the basis for the appeals, 

    That tells you that there are other concerns, besides the reality of fiscal concerns.  If I had to guess, very few of the residents in those communities actually give a damn about fiscal concerns, despite (also) facing that statewide reality – exacerbated by additional housing to boot.

    I can’t imagine this effort being successful, given the amount/level of opposition.  What are they going to do, “grant” some appeals, but deny other similar appeals? Sounds like they’re going to be pretty busy reviewing appeals, regardless.

    And yet, state officials are still trying to force more, in a state that’s no longer growing.

    One wonders at what point these officials became so disconnected from their constituents. (Not just with this issue, I suspect.)

     

    1. Ron Oertel

      Oh, and if they grant some appeals, do they then “dump” those numbers on other unwilling communities?

      Or, do they just reduce the entire amount?

      Other than the YIMBY’s around Davis, is there any community that’s lobbying for an “increase” in RHNA numbers, to make up for all those advocating for a decrease?

      I understand that there’s no actual “penalty” for not adhering to the new rules, though I suppose that the state could sue 28 communities (and however many there are in Southern California, which are also appealing their numbers). Assuming that these communities don’t exactly “fall in line” with those marching orders, one way or another.

      Or, perhaps the state could withhold funds (such as those that created the “Mace Mess”).

      Good luck with that, Mr. Newsom.

      Of course, the YIMBY groups are monitoring this, as well.

      I have a feeling that this entire, forced situation is going to become increasingly amusing.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Oh, and if they do “redirect” some money back to cities (as some kind of “consolation prize” for accepting housing that they don’t want), where are they going to take that money from?

        Elon Musk has already left. But we’ve still got the Zuck, so maybe he’ll help out? (Better get to him before he flies off to Mars, as well.)

        Maybe California should just start printing money, on its own (if it essentially isn’t, already).  It worked for the Confederacy (for awhile).  🙂

        O.K. – probably not a good sign that I’m now enjoying my own comments.

        1. Ron Oertel

          I’ve heard about that, but does that account for all of the unfunded liabilities throughout the state?  (Including that which belongs to the state, itself?)

          In any case, here’s some info:

          California’s coffers are bulging thanks to the high-flying Silicon Valley, surging stock market and a large share of professionals who were able to continue working remotely during Covid-19.

          “This is one more reason why borrowing and sending tens of billions to California was a crying shame — and why every Republican in Congress opposed it,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said on Twitter.

          The Democratic governor provided the surplus figure Monday as he proposed $600 checks for middle-income residents along with $500 payments to families with dependents.

          The governor said nearly $27 billion of the surplus will go to K-12 schools and community colleges under state requirements, while $11 billion will go toward reserves and debt payments. He is proposing that the remaining $38 billion boost other programs. Legislative Democrats are calling for Newsom to provide Medicaid for all undocumented immigrants, increase support for homeless residents, expand child care and bolster social services that were cut in the Great Recession.

          Sounds like he’s got it largely spent, already.  I doubt that his predecessor would have operated in this manner.

          I would have suggested that this money be used to pay-down unfunded liabilities for the state, counties, and cities throughout the state.

          https://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2021/05/10/california-has-a-staggering-757b-budget-surplus-1381195

          But to answer your question more directly, California is apparently NOT dependent upon population growth to enjoy a “fiscal profit”. (Too bad that they’re still not dealing with prior-created debt.)

        2. Keith Olsen

          The Democratic governor provided the surplus figure Monday as he proposed $600 checks for middle-income residents along with $500 payments to families with dependents.

          The Gov buying votes to stave off his recall?

        3. Ron Oertel

          Sounds like a pretty effective strategy.

          To some degree, this also occurred at the presidential level – from both candidates.

          Vote for me, get a check! (And maybe I’ll give you a bigger one than the other guy.)

          Of course, on a larger, much-more substantial level, this also occurs with special interests. Including within the governor’s budget.

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