Commentary: Community Versus Students, This Time It Was in Berkeley, Next Time…

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By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

It is an issue that figures to resonate in places like Davis, which already see community concerns about growth butt up against university plans for student enrollment expansion.

This week the Berkeleyside reported that an Alameda County judge has ordered UC Berkeley to freeze its enrollment at 2021-21 levels until the university re-does a SEIR for a proposed housing site.

The Berkeleyside reports: “The order to freeze enrollment comes a little more than a month after Judge Brad Seligman ruled that UC Berkeley abused its discretion when it failed to study the impacts of increasing its enrollment by 33.7%, or 11,285 students, from 2005 to 2020.”

Neighborhood associations are declaring victory.

“The ruling is not only a victory for neighbors upset with UC Berkeley’s growth and its mitigation measures, but for other communities in California struggling to deal with UC campus impacts, said Phil Bokovoy, the president of Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, which filed the original lawsuit,” the publication reported.

“This is how UC is behaving in lots of different places — forcing its impact on communities and not doing anything about it,” said Bokovoy. “It’s the first time a judge has said UC cannot continue to grow and has frozen its enrollment.”

The university responded, “We are optimistic that we can file documents with the court very soon that will satisfy the judgment with regard to future increases in enrollment.”

He added, “It will probably take the university between six and eight months to address the requirements of the judgment with regard to the Upper Hearst project. We are confident that the court will ultimately permit us to proceed with the Upper Hearst project.”

These battles tend to be fought on very narrow grounds.  But it is emblematic of a larger battle between communities battling to contain growth that is somewhat out of their control when UC is involved and the need for UC to continue expanding.

It is a battle that the city of Davis should be watching very carefully as it pits neighborhoods against students and the university.

The parameters of this fight should be very familiar.  Berkeley has plans to to transform an area around Heart and La Loma Avenue, which they unveiled in 2018 including a 150-bed housing complex – this one for faculty.

Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, as well as the City, sued, arguing “the SEIR was inadequate and did not comply with CEQA, the state’s environmental law.”

The City in particular is complaining “the university was trying to sneak a huge growth in student enrollment into the SEIR without examining its impacts and the costs to Berkeley for providing emergency services.”

Indeed in 2005, UC Berkeley claimed it would only increase enrollment by 1,650 students by 2020, but in 2019, that number went up by 11,285 to 42,035 students.

Again a lot of this should sound familiar to Davis residents.

One thing I continue to wonder – do these lawsuits actually stop growth or do they just make it more expensive putting the burden on those who can least afford it – usually the students whose access to housing is delayed and the ensuing delays increase the cost of housing for all students?

One of the key points that gets lost is that student enrollment growth, while seen as a money-maker for the university – is actually a huge driver of benefits for students.  Enrollment growth has been put forward as a mechanism for delaying tuition and fee hikes for one thing.

But there is also a social equity issue.  A huge driver of economic advancement in today’s society is in fact a college education.  As the leading public higher education system in the world, the UC system is literally the gateway out of economic hardship and poverty for thousands of students.

At UC Davis for example – 41 percent of all freshman enrollees are first generational college students.  That means many of them grew up in working class or disadvantaged or immigrant households and the additional access to high caliber higher education is their gateway to a better future.

And so when I hear about people complaining about UC Davis expanding their enrollment and forcing housing growth on the community – I think about the people who have established affluent, prosperous lives – and while I don’t think they are doing it intentionally necessarily – that argument creates a push back against the potential future prosperity of many people who are on the margin of getting into college.

Clearly there is a middle ground that can and should be reached that balances the needs of the existing members of the community with those of the university and its students.  But at the core this is in fact a social equity and a social justice issue.

Housing and access to it is the fundamental issue right now driving the divide between the haves and the have nots.  This is simply a small proxy battle in the midst of that larger argument.

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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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52 thoughts on “Commentary: Community Versus Students, This Time It Was in Berkeley, Next Time…”

  1. Matt Williams

    UC Davis and UC Berkeley are different cases.  UC Berkeley has very little alternative other than to build in the Berkeley community in order to accommodate its enrollment, staff and faculty growth.  UC Davis has the very available alternative of building on campus.

    In this article you once again fail to see the simple alternative to housing affordability for students … the Bernie Sanders education affordability solution … with the State using tax dollars to provide a recurring annual funding stream that makes both the cost of student housing and the cost of education affordable.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      You view this differently from me. I view both city and university as complicit in this and that the Davis crisis is entirely self-inflicted. Nevertheless the overall sentiment by the residents is not dissimilar which was the point of the piece.

    2. Keith Y Echols

      @Matt Williams

      Why can’t UC Berkeley build up?  Knock down some the surrounding 1 story buildings.  The problem they face and cities face when growing is infrastructure.  I don’t know about their water and sewer system capacity but the roads near the campus won’t support much more traffic.  Now student housing built on campus or near it will likely require less road use than further out so that may mitigate some of the issue.

      @David

      . I view both city and university as complicit in this and that the Davis crisis is entirely self-inflicted. 

      How is the city complicit in the University’s decision to grow at a rate that it can’t manage by itself and adversely impacts it’s neighbor the city?

        1. Keith Y Echols

          Can they be sued for building dense on their own property (own jurisdiction)?   I guess my first question should be: Is UC Berkeley part of the city of Berkeley or outside of the city (in terms of jurisdiction) like UCD is from Davis?  It’s not like 50 years ago Mountain View could have sued Palo Alto because it opened up HP’s headquarters on Page Mill Road which is close to the Mt. View city border and probably impacted their housing requirements (though IMO the RHNA should place the burden of housing on the jurisdictions that are causing the need for housing….so prevent bedroom communities and less commuting).

          If UC Berkeley is part of the city of Berkeley, then they’re like any other business.  If Amazon came to town and opened up a facility that employed 5,000 people….most of whom will be looking for housing…..then there’s not much the city can do about that (as long as Amazon followed the city’s zonings and codes for opening up their operations center in the city of Berkeley).

        2. Matt Williams

          David, you didn’t answer Keith’s question to you, which was “How is the city complicit in the University’s decision to grow at a rate that it can’t manage by itself and adversely impacts it’s neighbor the city?”

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Before Sterling opened last year, 2002 was the last time a market rate student housing building opened.

        3. Keith Y Echols

          Before Sterling opened last year, 2002 was the last time a market rate student housing building opened.

          That is an answer for: “Has the city provided enough housing for students?”

          It is not an answer for:

          “How is the city complicit in the University’s decision to grow at a rate that it can’t manage by itself and adversely impacts it’s neighbor the city?”

          The question is one about jurisdictional responsibility and not one of if the city is doing enough to help student housing.

           

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            You tried to goose the question and I didn’t bite. My view is that the city didn’t do enough to help the housing crisis up until 2016 or so. That is not meant to take the university off the hook for their role.

        4. Keith Y Echols

          How did I “goose” the question?  I asked a straight forward question which you refuse to answer for some reason.  That’s fine.  But don’t accuse me of trying to trick you into making a statement about student housing and the city.

          Your dancing around the question/”not biting” doesn’t lend to your credibility either way.

          My view is that the city didn’t do enough to help the housing crisis up until 2016 or so. That is not meant to take the university off the hook for their role.

          Again, the question is why do you believe it’s the city’s responsibility (in the first place) to manage the housing problems created by UCD’s decision to grow?  Did the city get a vote on UCD’s decision?  Did they get to vote and say: “We don’t really want you to grow because we don’t want to grow…so UCD don’t grow”.  I  even later clarified my question by stating it’s a jurisdiction problem.

        5. Ron Glick

          The lawsuit against UCD over West Village was exactly what you describe. A suit against development by UCD on UCD land. It slowed down the construction of much needed on campus housing and caused Katehi to look to Sacramento for growth.

    3. Richard_McCann

      Davis has limited availability of lands for housing beyond what they’ve already proposed. UCD uses its lands for ag research that have a global impact. West Village consumed fields being used for research.

      Your “simple” alternative is unlikely to be politically feasible, at least in the near future. We need to solve this problem now.

      And further, why are we proposing to disenfranchise students from participating in Davis city politics by forcing them to live on campus? And important difference with UC Berkeley is the vast majority of UC owned housing is off campus in the City so that students can vote locally. That’s not the case for UCD.

      And finally, we as a community have an obligation to provide our state’s students a welcoming, supportive environment in return for the millions of dollars that flow into our community from a combination of tax funds and directed tuition funds to the campus. No UCD and we look like Dixon.

      1. Keith Y Echols

        @ Richard

        Wow…how can everything you write be so wrong?

        Davis has limited availability of lands for housing beyond what they’ve already proposed.

        That’s self imposed and irrelevant.

        UCD uses its lands for ag research that have a global impact. 

        They can expand however they like; it’s their jurisdiction. If they don’t want to expand and take up AG land (or buy more land near by) then maybe they shouldn’t expand.

        Your “simple” alternative is unlikely to be politically feasible, at least in the near future. We need to solve this problem now.

        What simple alternative?  And what problem?  I don’t recognize student housing as a city problem.  It’s a UCD problem.  Like I said if it were a city problem; UCD would be subject to the city’s laws, ordinances, fees and taxes.  BUT UCD IS IT’S OWN SOVEREIGN county area.

        And further, why are we proposing to disenfranchise students from participating in Davis city politics by forcing them to live on campus? 

        Oh those poor precious magical unicorn people that need your protection.   I choose to look at students as everyone else.  No one is pushing specifically them or anyone else out of the city.  They are like everyone else.  If they can afford to live here, they can live here.  Why should the city expend resources to support UCD’s housing burden?  It’s like asking Davis to house Woodland’s growing population (which the opposite is happening).

        And finally, we as a community have an obligation to provide our state’s students a welcoming, supportive environment in return for the millions of dollars that flow into our community from a combination of tax funds and directed tuition funds to the campus. No UCD and we look like Dixon.

        Again…students are unicorns…they’re special…different than everyone else?

        I’m willing to entertain numbers that say students’ purchase of beer, coffee, burgers and burritos generate enough tax revenue to justify the infrastructure support cost to build student housing in the community.  But of course…it doesn’t justify it (I did propose a dense student housing project area near campus where it might make sense….also the UMall project might make sense).

        No UCD and we look like Dixon.

        Hmmm….if the city doesn’t build student housing, the entire University is going to uproot and go somewhere else?  Okay…I’m willing to entertain how that would happen……such silliness.  And if UCD does just uproot and go….can we look like Winters?  At least we’d be able to have restaurants that don’t care to students.

        But like most things often times people substitute emotion for rational thought because it makes them feel better about themselves to care….“Won’t someone please think of the children (students)!”

        1. Tim Keller

          They can expand however they like; it’s their jurisdiction. If they don’t want to expand and take up AG land (or buy more land near by) then maybe they shouldn’t expand.

          While I agree with the principle, I want to point out that research AG land is not nearly as fungible as you are suggesting here.

          If you look at a sattelite image of any field you will see huge differences in foliage within that field.   That is the effect of significant complexity in soil types, and water avaliability.

          To actually do meaningful research on the performance of any crop, you need to understand the soils those crops are in VERY well ( and thus be able to cancel out those variables)      It is not the case that the university can just buy more ag land elsewhere and do the same job.    That needs to be understood by everyone who looks at the land surrounding west village and thinks “why not just expand over there”

          That said, I do agree that the university has numerous opportunities to use its land on the east side of 113 for better effect in student housing.

        2. Keith Y Echols

          , I want to point out that research AG land is not nearly as fungible as you are suggesting here.

          I never meant to imply that AG land is fungible.  My point is that they have plenty of land to do with what they want.  If they want to keep it as AG land and not build more housing…that’s fine…then maybe they shouldn’t expand.

          Because of the nature of students being campus centric; the actual land footprint necessary to build housing for students isn’t nearly as much of an obstacle as it is else where.  There’s much less need for parking or roads…etc…put simply, if UCD wanted to spend the money, they could build up…much easier than the city could.

  2. Don Shor

    Indeed in 2005, UC Berkeley claimed it would only increase enrollment by 1,650 students by 2020, but in 2019, that number went up by 11,285 to 42,035 students.

    UC Davis told us in 2010 how much they were going to grow. One of the more common responses here was that they wouldn’t meet their projections. They did.

    The moment Chancellor Katehi announced the 2020 initiative, the city and university should have begun planning together for how to address the housing shortage (above and beyond that which already prevailed) to meet the housing demand that would be created by adding 6000 students and 3000 faculty and staff.

     

    1. Keith Y Echols

      Still the assumption that the city bears responsibility for housing UCD’s revenue producing assets?

       the city and university should have begun planning together for how to address the housing shortage 

      If UCD wants the city to bear some responsibility, then it should allow itself to be included into the city boundaries and jurisdiction; subject to city laws, ordinances, fees, taxes…etc…

        1. Matt Williams

          Wo “lives here” Don?  I don’t understand your comment?

          As Keith has pointed out, UCD is wholly outside the City Limits.  That arms length relationship has consequences.  it imposes the burden of services/costs/expenses on the City, but provides no revenues to cover the burden of those services/costs/expenses.

        2. Richard_McCann

          UCD doesn’t provide revenues directly, but by paying its employees, they spend their money that creates sales and excise tax revenues and buy houses that bid up the prices and increase property taxes. Further, the high education level of parents who are on the faculty and staff increases the productivity of the school district without having expend more funds on education. In addition, students spend money in Davis that generates sales taxes and rent in housing that pays property taxes. The net aggregate benefits are obvious when we look at the directly comparable alternative of Dixon.

        3. Keith Y Echols

          @Richard

          Thank you for basic local economy and taxes 101.  lol…

          As I said earlier, how much can the city make that much money of of the sales tax from beer (from all two of Davis’ bars?), coffee, burgers and burritos.   Houses are going to be rent out with or without students.  So their impact on property taxes is irrelevant at this time.

          All those “high paid staff”…great, build more retail in Davis for them to come here from North, North Davis and spend their money here rather than Woodland.  Until the city gets more than 18% of the property tax revenues….adding new homes without some other tangible benefit makes no sense.  But bottom line, expand commercial and retail to fund other expansion like parks, infrastructure and even residential .

          Man…you really don’t like Dixon…and fear UCD can either transform it’s entire campus into a giant robot and walk off or go poof! and magically disappear.  There was a sci-fi show called Stargate Atlantis where the entire city could fly away like a giant space ship.

           

        4. Matt Williams

          The net aggregate benefits are obvious when we look at the directly comparable alternative of Dixon.

          .
          Actually Richard, Dixon has a much more robust retail economy than Davis has … and as a result a much, much, much better Sales Tax revenues per capita than Davis has.  Dixon does have less robust automobile sales, but otherwise outpaces Davis in almost all retail categories.  The Redwood Barn retail sales category is probably better in Davis.

          Davis does have a better services sector … doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. as well as restaurants and coffee shops, but with the exception of dine-in restaurants, none of those services generate sales tax.

          So what are those net aggregate benefits to the City of Davis that are so much better than the net aggregate benefits to the City of Dixon?

  3. Richard_McCann

    This article in the Atlantic expresses a large concern–a decline in the willingness to act on the common good. In this case, David has pointed out the common good of supporting the education of our children statewide and how that is meeting the resistance from those who focused on their narrow self interests. We need to be return to thinking bigger if we want to accomplish many of our goals, not just educating the underprivileged.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/08/some-americans-no-longer-believe-in-the-common-good/619856/

    1. Matt Williams

      Richard, while I admire your moral imperative for the common good, but in this case you are economically pissing up a rope.

      What I hear you arguing for is that we have a moral obligation to support higher education.  I don’t disagree with that moral principle, but I believe you are missing the obvious economic reality that neither the 65,000 souls who live in the city of Davis, nor the City of Davis as a municipal jurisdiction have the financial resources to accomplish the gargantuan task that you idealistically want them to accomplish.

      As I have said many times in many different venues, the place where there are sufficient resources is at the State level, but it appears to me that you are not holding the State to the same morally-principled standard as you are holding your fellow Davis residents.

      I believe your argument lacks equity.  If you were going after the State with the same zeal that you are going after your fellow Davisites, then your arguments would have equity, but I haven’t heard anything from you thus far on moral obligation to support the housing component of higher education.

      JMO

  4. Ron Glick

    Keith you seem to want the benefits of living near UCD without taking any of the responsibility. You keep asking what’s in it for Davis.

    There are all sorts of benefits to Davis from its proximity to UCD. I would point to the Healthy Davis Together Covid testing program as exhibit 1. Try going to get a Covid test most anywhere else and you begin to see the benefits to this community of being close to UCD. When Vaccination became available for kids over 12 my daughter got a shot the next day at the UCD clinic at the Rec Hall.

    There are benefits to Davis that are both monetary and intangible.

  5. Keith Y Echols

    Keith you seem to want the benefits of living near UCD without taking any of the responsibility.

    Where did I say I  WANTED the benefits of living near UCD.  UCD is next to Davis.  Not much I or anyone else can do about that.  The responsibility would come from if UCD were actually part of the city of Davis.  Instead they sit next to Davis with nearly full autonomy.  Did the the city get to vote on weather or not UCD should expand back in 2010?

    No what we’re left with is a good portion of people in this town that conflate UCD and the city of Davis; that there is some sacred covenant between the two that was chiseled into stone tablets the obligations the city has to UCD.  I wouldn’t be surprised there was a golden ark and instead of a lid with two cherubim it had two student statues facing each other playing hacky sack…or beer pong, cornhole…or whatever that trampoline ball game students play these days on the lid.

    Yes, HDT is great.  But that doesn’t mean I’m going to incur the expense of providing services, infrastructure and maintenance necessary for housing their ever growing revenue producing assets.

    So yes, please show me the Aggie Ark of the Student Housing Covenant so that we may appease our benevolent lord UCD.

    1. Ron Glick

      From Wikipedia:

      “However, local farmer and politician George Washington Pierce Jr. also fought hard in the California State Assembly for the creation of a university farm, and influenced the drafting of the site criteria in the University Farm Bill to ensure that Yolo County would become the selected site—but unlike Shields, did not live long enough to see the promotion of Davis to a general campus and is now largely forgotten.”

      What is now UCD was originally recruited to the area by locals looking to benefit from the siting of the University Farm. The place has forever since been intertwined with the City’s economics and the city has benefitted tremendously from its proximity to the University. It is only in the last 30 years that many in this town have sought to bite the hand that feeds them by claiming no responsibility while enjoying the benefits of the billions of dollars a year that UCD brings into the local economy.

      1. Keith Y Echols

         The place has forever since been intertwined with the City’s economics and the city has benefitted tremendously from its proximity to the University.

        City’s economics?  Crappy selection of retail.  Too many burrito, burger and pizza places and few adult restaurants.  Why?  Because it all caters to the student market.  And how’s the city’s finances doing these days?

        Ya, know I’m willing to sacrifice a goat at the alter of the Aggie Ark of the Student Housing Covenant if it’ll make you feel better.

      2. Matt Williams

        It is only in the last 30 years that many in this town have sought to bite the hand that feeds them by claiming no responsibility while enjoying the benefits of the billions of dollars a year that UCD brings into the local economy.

        .
        Ron, when was the last time you looked at how much UCD brings to the local economy?  Your argument caries a lot of weight if you replace the word local with the word regional.  The reality is that UCD really doesn’t add anything significant to the local (within the City Limits) economy here in Davis.  Other than automobile dealerships the local retail economy has almost completely evaporated.  When UCD students spend their very limited retail dollars, the transactions almost always take place outside the Davis City Limits.  Restaurant dine-in meals do generate sales tax, but to-go meals are not taxable … and as UCD expands its on-campus dining options, more and more student meals happen outside the City Limits … with no economic impact on the local economy.

        One area where UCD could actually have an impact on the local economy is in the over 100,000 applications they receive each year.  Many colleges and universities respond to an application or application inquiry by encouraging the prospective student and their family to come to davis and spend at least two days getting to appreciate both the campus and the riches of the Yolo/Davis region that surround and augment the campus.  Such overnight stays would contribute to both the local economy (hospital stay nights, meals at restaurants, etc) and the revenues of the City (transient occupancy tax, sales tax on meals and purchases).  Unfortunately, no such program exists for maximizing the economic potential of each UCD application.

        The number of City of Davis residents who work somewhere other than UCD is four times greater than the number of City of Davis residents who actually work at UCD, and because of the lack of anywhere in Davis to spend their hard earned cash, most Davis resisents (regardless of who they work for) spend very little of that money within the City Limits … so the economic impact on the local economy ranges somewhere between slim and none.

        With all the above said, Healthy Davis Together is a shining example of how UCD and the local community should be working together. Unfortunately it is an exception … and not an exception that makes the rule.

        1. Ron Glick

          I guess it depends on how you think of what defines the local economy.

          Davis’ inability to adequately capitalize on its resources should not be blamed on UC but instead on the citizenry that has made decisions over decades foregoing many economic opportunities.

  6. Tim Keller

    Lets just say that we could build off-campus student housing, and that we could build it at sufficient density that the property taxes and all the other financial factors that come with it end up being a net revenue generator for the city…     Why would we NOT be all over doing that?    Is it just because “neighbors complain”  ?

    1. Keith Y Echols

      Are you asking me?

      I’ve always said that I support housing (student or otherwise) as long as it has a tangible benefit for the city.  If you recall, previously I suggested a student zone for mixed use urban development around A and 2nd/3rd streets….because I felt the hit on the infrastructure hit would be lessened and because I thought the mixed use zone could attract from out of town and capture student/young adult revenue.

      What I oppose is this irrational sense of obligation that people feel that the city has to UCD and students.

      As for the (extreme) NIMBYs?  Yes they’ll complain and oppose growth regardless of the benefits.  You’ll never convince them.  I do believe that there are a sufficient number of people that oppose growth but could be convinced otherwise if they saw and real benefit for the city (and by extension themselves) from the new growth.

      1. Tim Keller

        Wasnt directly asking you.  But I appreciate the response.

        I get your utilitarian argument, but I do see the City’s “job” as being a community to support the university.   Just as the purpose of ANY town I would argue, would be to provide the services and community to support whatever their primary and secondary industries are.

        When when I meet students who cant find a place to live here, i am reminded of those bank heist movies where some idiot criminal botches something and the boss comes and says “You had ONE JOB!”

        If Davis were do have “one job” it would be to provide community for the students, staff, and professors of the university as well as the secondary industries that support them.  Thats it… and when we fail to do that, I do think that is a fundamental failure on behalf of the city.  Thats an opinion, and it is colored by my own status as an alumni and someone who is still active in supporting the University.  But it is my opinion nonetheless.

        Now, we can disagree on that, which is fine.   Because I think we can split hairs just a little and come up with a different statement which we will probably agree on:   “The city does not have to subsidize student housing”

        If we can build market rate student housing AND do so in a way that is net-positive in terms of revenue to the City, then I can think of no reason why we shouldn’t be pushing as much of that growth as humanly possible.

        1. Matt Williams

          I get your utilitarian argument, but I do see the City’s “job” as being a community to support the university.   Just as the purpose of ANY town I would argue, would be to provide the services and community to support whatever their primary and secondary industries are.

          .
          I understand, and even agree with, your point.  However, there is a fundamental difference between a city supporting the primary and secondary industries that reside within its boundaries … because those industries contribute revenues to the city government that provides those support services to them.  UCD currently gets a rich and broad range of support services from the City without the City getting any revenues to defray the costs of providing those services.

          Does Menlo Park provide services to Stanford?  Palo Alto clearly does, because Stanford is in the City of Palo Alto, but does that service provision extend beyond the host city’s boundaries?

        2. Keith Y Echols

          I get your utilitarian argument, but I do see the City’s “job” as being a community to support the university.   Just as the purpose of ANY town I would argue, would be to provide the services and community to support whatever their primary and secondary industries are.

          That’s the point!  UCD is not one the city’s industries.  The city does not set laws, ordinances, fees, taxes….etc on anything on UCD property.  The city has no say in UCD’s activities.  So why should the city have any responsibility to UCD?  It’s like saying the city should plan for housing for Cache Creek Casino employees (the 2nd largest employer in Yolo County).  Davis should support industries INSIDE the city of Davis.  

          The city’s job is to act in the best interests of it’s people.  The people that live there.  The city’s best interests are not to absorb the costs providing services, infrastructure and maintenance of housing UCD’s revenue producing assets.  If you can find the Aggie Ark of the Student Housing Covenant that everyone assumes exists to mystically oblige the city to provide services for UCD…then maybe I’ll change my mind.

          When when I meet students who cant find a place to live here, 

          Tell them to do what every other adult does.  Move somewhere else….drive to work or school….as the kids say ADULTING IS HARD (which means no special entitlement)!

           “The city does not have to subsidize student housing”

          To be clear, I’m not picking on students.  I’d amend your comment to “the city does not have to subsidize ANY MARKET RATE housing.” I believe the city should subsidize affordable housing for lower and some middle income residents and workers.

          I’m open to any new development that may benefit the city revenue positive or otherwise .  The truth of the matter is that in order to fund new housing infrastructure, services…etc…  (market rate or affordable) ECONOMIC expansion and COMMERCIAL development will have to happen in Davis.  It’s current stagnant state is not conducive for residential growth.

        3. Tim Keller

          That’s the point!  UCD is not one the city’s industries.

          I disagree.   Your primary industry is whatever brings money INTO your economy.   (Normally in the form of jobs)

          The university is a strange primary industry for all the reasons you cite, but it is still our #1 employer and it absolutley is what drives our economic engine here.  Denying that is pointless.

          I think we are lucky to be a town that has a reason for being.   A lot of towns don’t really… or can’t articulate it anyway.

        4. Matt Williams

          I disagree.   Your primary industry is whatever brings money INTO your economy.   (Normally in the form of jobs)

          The university is a strange primary industry for all the reasons you cite, but it is still our #1 employer and it absolutely is what drives our economic engine here.  Denying that is pointless.

          Tim, if you step back and look at the money that UCD brings into the economy of the City of Davis, I think you will find that it isn’t what you have characterized.

          Lets start with your statement about jobs in the local economy.  UCD has a relatively small complement of jobs that are in the City.  50% of all UCD jobs are at the medical campus in Sacramento, which brings zero dollars into the City of Davis economy.  Of the remaining 50% only about 10% of them are actually in the City.  According to the City’s CAFR, DJUSD has 1,120 employees, which may be a bit more than the number of UCD employees working in the City or a bit less … let’s split the difference and call it a tie.

          The list of principal employers in the CAFR shows Sutter Davis Hospital, the City of Davis, Nugget Markets, Unitrans, Safeway, Courtyard Healthcare Center, URC, the Davis Food Coop, USDA, PG&E, and Target as the rest of the top 13 employers.  other than Unitrans, none of their jobs are contributed by UCD.

          Further, when you look elsewhere in the CAFR at the top 25 Sales Tax producers for the City, none of them have any link to UCD.

          UCD’s own numbers indicate that there are just over 4,700 Davis residents working on the campus, but that is less than 25% of the 24,529 total jobs held by Davis residents … and given the incredibly anemic local options for spending some of their wages in Davis, I think you will agree that very little of the hard-earned wages of those 4,700 Davis residents working on the campus gets spent here in Davis.

          So, help me along here.  Where are all these jobs that UCD is responsible for in the City of Davis?

        5. Keith Y Echols

          The university is a strange primary industry for all the reasons you cite, but it is still our #1 employer and it absolutley is what drives our economic engine here.  Denying that is pointless.

          What are you talking about Tim?  No one is denying that UCD is the county’s #1 employer (number of people it employs).  But it’s not necessarily the city of Davis’ #1 employer.  It maybe…but that’s irrelevant.  Does the city plan for the projected number of people that will commute to Sacramento for state jobs?  How about job growth from the number 2 employer in Yolo County?  Cache Creek Casino?

          This conversation got kicked off between me and David about JURSIDICTION.  Which is what I’ve tried to tell you a couple of times.  A city is responsible for those (people and industries) within it’s jurisdiction/city limits.  I’ll say again; the city has little say in what goes on UCD property.  UCD is not subject to city laws, ordinances, fees, zoning..etc…  The city did not get a say back in 2010 if UCD should grow or not.  UCD just decided to grow and build housing for less than half of what was needed.

           

          Let me put to you this way. Do you have any say in if your neighbor’s family decides to expand?  Suddenly their parents and an uncle and his kid lives there.  There’s 2 more cars parked in the street.  More traffic.  They may even be cool neighbors….that let you use their pool, invite you to BBQs…take care of your pets while you’re away.  But are you obliged to let their cousin stay in your guest room?  You can’t tell them what to do on their property.  But you don’t have to take on some of their burden either.

        6. Ron Glick

          I guess where things diverged was when the residents of Davis altered the long symbiotic relationship between the City and UCD. Since the inception of the University Farm the relationship was that the University would build the educational and research campus and the locals would build the support housing and community infrastructure. This held for almost 100 years and was good for both the campus and the community. With the rise of no growth and the passage of Measure J the relationship was altered to the point where Keith can now argue what’s in it for Keith? Personally I liked the old model of cooperation better.

        7. Keith Y Echols

           Keith can now argue what’s in it for Keith?

          How about what’s in it for the city?

          You can take a pot shot at me because I make the comments.  But that doesn’t change the fact that it showcases your limited understanding of the situation.  The CITY OF DAVIS IS NOT UCD.  THE CITY DOES NOT LIVE TO SERVE UCD. (unless you can find the mystical Ark of the Davis Covenant).   There is more and more evidence that Davis is now more a suburb to Sacramento or even the Bay Area than it is a thrall to UCD.  TIME TO LIVE IN THE PRESENT!  So that being the case; there are a lot of us that live in the city and have little or no connection to UCD  that feel there is no need take on the burden of supporting a billion dollar institution! ….a neighbor that decided to increase it’s enrollment by the thousands and then decided to plan to house only half of them.

          So please argue your point of view with facts and logic and not with indignant beliefs about a mystical time when UCD and the city were one and that it was all bound by aggie faerie magic and how those covenants still hold.

           

    2. Matt Williams

      Lets just say that we could build off-campus student housing, and that we could build it at sufficient density that the property taxes and all the other financial factors that come with it end up being a net revenue generator for the city…     Why would we NOT be all over doing that?

      .
      That is a very reasonable question Tim, and the Finance and Budget Commission (FBC) created a subcommittee to look into those financial factors.  Their finding was that the City’s current financial model for New Development, which uses a 25% discount from existing City costs in order to determine the financial impact of the New Development on the City is wrong.  The FBC unanimously recommended to City Council that they hire an independent financial analysis firm to complete an objective assessment of the City’s true costs for New Development projects.

      My personal belief is that the true total life-cycle costs of New Development are between 25% and 50% higher than the current City model calculates.  If that belief is correct, in order for the City’s books to “balance” the taxes paid by developers over the lifetime of a New Development project would need to be increased by 25% to 50%.  Developers already complain that the costs of development are too high in Davis.  How do you think they would react to a 25% to 50% increase in their annual taxes, which are their recurring costs?

      In those situations where the developer was willing to proceed with new development under the higher taxes scenario, in both apartment and SFR situations the developers would pass through those annual recurring costs to the residents … higher monthly rents for apartments and higher purchase prices and higher annual property taxes for SFRs that are sold.  That doesn’t impact the “neighbors” but I suspect that the people who are already complaining that Davis is not affordable would be complaining that the higher taxes would make Davis even less affordable.

      1. Tim Keller

        I agree on the pricing front Matt, but what can we do about it?  Pricing is pricing.

        I suggest that we look at pricing and capacity separately.   Yes there ARE students that are priced out of housing here.. but a lot of the ones I know are displaced by availability.  IE: they COULD afford to live in town IF they could actually find a spot.

        That said, there are things that we should be looking at to reduce costs as well.  For example, height restrictions can have a big impact on cost for development.   – Over a certain height you need a OSHA construction elevator… but tack on a couple more stories and that cost can be absorbed…   I think it deserves a lot of study, as you suggest – not just on the cost side for the city, but also on the realistic cost expectations of the developers… there WILL be a “sweet spot” where we can balance the zoning with what actually pencils out for whoever builds the thing, and with the costs to the city vs. property tax…     We just need to get “real” numbers for all those things and figure out what that sweet spot is.

        Not a small project.

        1. Matt Williams

          Well said Tim.

          On a separate note, I was sorry to miss your event last night, but we had an important veterinarian appointment last night (Midtown Animal Clinic has evening hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays) that took precedence.

  7. Bill Marshall

    Something I can’t seem to find in article, nor in comments…

    UCB owns student housing in Bezerkley… so students can vote in local elections… does UC pay property taxes in the City?  UCD owns property in the City of Davis.  Last I heard, they pay no property tax on those properties… they take their ‘exemption’…

    If Davis annexed UCD housing, would those properties pay property taxes?  Impact fees?

    I honestly don’t know, but expect that is answer is NO!…. [hint: unannexed, UCD is in Yolo County (for the most part) already… does the student housing property pay property taxes to the County?]

    1. Keith Y Echols

      If Davis annexed UCD housing, would those properties pay property taxes?  Impact fees?

      the city gets small fraction of property tax collected by the county. So collecting property tax isn’t the answer.  But I like the direction that you’re thinking.

      I think the to support housing the city needs to better capture revenue from sales tax….meaning more commercial development to support housing.  When I suggested a mixed use student oriented zone (I was thinking around A & 1st/2nd streets) that it’s proximity to UCD would cut down on the use of new streets  street expansion/maintenance ….etc..  the idea is for more student/young people oriented entertainment and activities…the idea is to attract other young people to spend their money in the area.

      1. Bill Marshall

        the city gets small fraction of property tax collected by the county.

        Does the county get any property tax from UCD?  A small fraction of zero, is …

        1. Keith Y Echols

          UCD is within the county but not incorporated (I think)…so the county gets all of the property tax…I’m assuming.

          As you know, the student housing on campus…the city gets zero property tax revenue.  But also incurs little of the cost for services, infrastructure and maintenance…which is far greater than a fraction of the property tax revenue.

  8. Ron Glick

    “UCD currently gets a rich and broad range of support services from the City without the City getting any revenues to defray the costs of providing those services.”

    The failure to annex the University into the City is the main reason for this situation. its the City’s fault more than the University’s.

    1. Keith Y Echols

      The failure to annex the University into the City is the main reason for this situation. its the City’s fault more than the University’s.

      It would be interesting to know if UCD were within the city if it would be a positive revenue generator for the city.  That’s a lot of property tax.  But I don’t know about business taxes?  UCD itself isn’t a business.  There are lots of businesses on UCD’s property I think.  There would be no more UCD Police as it would be up the city to provide that service….and many others.  The city would have to maintain UCD’s roads and other upkeep costs.

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