A Conversation with a Yes on H Campaign Coordinator: Evan Cragin

Evan Cragin is holding the sign on the far left

By Ben Wynd

DAVIS, CA – On May 12, 2022, I spoke with a campaign coordinator for Yes on Measure H, Evan Cragin, who graduated from UC Davis last winter and has been active in Davis politics during his time here.

What do you do on a day to day basis as a campaign coordinator?

“Every day is pretty different. I’m lucky in that I get to choose my own hours. Most days I do an assortment of jobs, like coordinating events, dropping lawn signs, etc. Most days, though, I just knock on doors in Davis residential areas. I’ll get a turf of over 100 people and between 4 and sunset I’ll be knocking doors constantly. A lot of people don’t know what’s on the ballot or what Measure H even is. Often I’m informing people about what the measure itself is about.”

How did you arrive at a campaign coordinator position? How has the experience been so far?

“I was involved in the Measure B campaign in a volunteer sense. When it was officially known DiSC was gonna be back on the ballot, I got a call in late December from people on the campaign who asked if I’d want to work for them in a paid position. I was overjoyed because I was planning on spending hours on it regardless. I think they’ve really utilized students well for the campaign. They run on student issues and really listen. Students can gain resume building skills and get a little extra money working on the campaign, and I’m really happy I can be a part of it.” 

Did you work on the DiSC 2020 campaign or are you only recently involved?

“I volunteered about twice for the 2020 campaign, but I was a big supporter. I didn’t work and wasn’t paid, I was just volunteering.”

If so, how has the campaign changed in terms of the lifting of COVID restrictions? 

“In 2020, I was on the executive board of Davis College Democrats, and back then it was called Measure B. We officially endorsed Measure B. I was in support as a Davis College Democrat and in support personally. When COVID was at its peak, and all the students were out of Davis, it failed by around 630 votes. With all the students out of town it had an unfair disadvantage. This time around I’m looking a lot more positively. Students here have been big supporters. We have the endorsements of Davis College Democrats, ASUCD, and several other student run organizations. The campaign has swung 100% back in person.”

Have you had any distinct experiences or worked with anyone unique that changed your perspective on an issue while working on the campaign?

“You’ll find me at the farmers market most Wednesdays and Saturdays [tabling for Measure H.] A lot of the conversations I have with young people and even young family types, anywhere from 18 to 40, housing is such an important issue. I think everyone who has moved to Davis has recognized the need for more housing. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about how hard it is to find a place they can afford on a college budget. It’s ridiculous to me. Davis has lagged in its building of housing, which may be attributed to the 1% growth gap or other low density related issues. People get emotional over how hard it can be. I have a friend who commuted from the east bay because he couldn’t find affordable housing in time. There’s no reason to have a vacancy rate as low as we do.” 

Why are you personally passionate about Measure H passing?

“I know people in the past in Davis have fought for housing and good paying jobs, especially college students. These are the important things to us for when we finish and graduate. I’m a recent UC Davis graduate, and the issue of housing is just so important to me. This will be one of the biggest housing projects in Davis. I believe it will be one of the biggest affordable housing projects in the history of Davis as well. Working and fighting for housing and jobs is such an important thing to do for students and people in a college town like Davis. We love this city, and we want to make sure there’s lots of opportunities for all.”

One of the main prospects of DiSC is retaining talent in Davis. As a recent UC Davis graduate, what does talent retention mean for you?

“There’s a reason so many of our elected officials support this. It’s important to keep smart minds, good ideas, and good development like manufacturing and research from UC Davis stay in Davis. At the moment we’re struggling to not have brain drain among the younger population. It’s hard for people in Davis to keep a professional job. I’m not in STEM, so I personally won’t get as much of the benefit as someone in it would, but it’s still important to keep good jobs in a university town. A lot of other college towns in California have managed to do things similar to DiSC. They keep a facility for researchers and developers, which Davis has largely nothing like. Especially a truly sustainable facility. We have the potential to do better.”

How do you converse with people who oppose Measure H? 

“A lot of people were concerned about traffic, and the 2022 version addressed concerns. With the shrinking of it, a lot of people seem relieved. A lot of people also seem relieved that Mace is being redeveloped. Many East Davis residents worry about whether they can get onto the freeway during rush hour, so this is an important factor. An independent study found when Mace is redeveloped it will actually alleviate traffic by about three minutes. A lot of people have their nerves calmed when hearing about the alleviation.” 

How has growing in Berkeley, a city often in the news for housing related issues, informed your views and actions on housing?

“Not much has changed to be honest. However, voters in Davis are very well informed. Davis stands out in terms of how many people know the politics of the city. Same goes for Berkeley, but I think Davis may have the edge. Both are college towns that have struggled with housing for decades. Any housing can be contentious in either city. I’m glad Davis doesn’t have quite the pricing problem yet. Berkeley and Sacramento have made big strides in changing local zoning. I hope that comes to Davis next.”

Do you plan on continuing to live in Davis and will you continue to keep track of DiSC if so?

“I would love to live in Davis, but I’m looking for an affordable place. There’s a reality that I may have to move to Sacramento or West Sacramento. People before me at Davis have fought for other housing projects. I would like to stay so the future generation doesn’t have to deal with the current issues. Measure H can be a good asset in that. It’s also imperative that the public is involved after DiSC’s potential passing. We have to hold developers accountable to what they agreed to. However, Measure H has codified lots of the provisions of DiSC. Much of the project is legally bound to what they agreed to in its potential passing. The Mace Blvd traffic reconstruction will happen before the project is even built as well. I’ll always fight for housing and keeping our elected officials accountable”

Any closing thoughts?

“Today I noticed driving down Covell, someone spray painted over the Yes on H signs. There’s a lot of misleading information that sparked this. I wish politics could stay a little more civil.”

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26 Comments

  1. Keith Y Echols

    . I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about how hard it is to find a place they can afford on a college budget. It’s ridiculous to me. Davis has lagged in its building of housing, which may be attributed to the 1% growth gap or other low density related issues. 

    This young person thinks the city owes him/people housing….that my friends is called entitlement.  Maybe he should look to the institution that he/students paid all their money to about the matter of housing.   UCD is building more housing…a lot more housing.  Maybe he/students should get housing there if getting in the city is so difficult.

    I have a friend who commuted from the east bay because he couldn’t find affordable housing in time.

    Maybe your friend should consider going to school somewhere else if housing and the commute is too much for him.  If I commute to Maui for surf lessons should I expect affordable student housing because my plane commute is expensive?

    There’s no reason to have a vacancy rate as low as we do.” 

    Sure there is, the existing community doesn’t want to support (the cost of city services) anymore residential housing unless there’s a good reason to do so.  In DISC’s case it claims that it will (eventually) provide $3M+ tax revenue for the city.  Voters then need to weigh if that’s enough a benefit to incur the expense of servicing the new housing and businesses….along with the extra traffic.

    Both are college towns that have struggled with housing for decades. Any housing can be contentious in either city. 

    Berkeley is in a different situation than Davis.  UC Berkeley is situated within the city of Berkeley’s city limits.  Therefore UC Berkeley and it’s students have a legitimate say in the city’s need to plan for housing for students and staff at UC Berkeley.  UCD IS OUTSIDE OF DAVIS CITY LIMITS.  Long ago the two institutions decided to remain apart.  This means that UCD can set it’s own ordinances and is not subject to city governance, ordinances or taxation (sales tax).  So UCD is responsible for itself; including housing it’s revenue producing assets (students).

    “I would love to live in Davis, but I’m looking for an affordable place. There’s a reality that I may have to move to Sacramento or West Sacramento. People before me at Davis have fought for other housing projects. I would like to stay so the future generation doesn’t have to deal with the current issues. Measure H can be a good asset in that.

    This poor guy is under the delusion that for profit development is going to help make housing affordable.  It isn’t.  It’s going to help raise prices.  Builders only build if prices are going up.  You think those homes are going to attract students?  No.  As they say: “a rising tide raises all boats”.   They’re probably going to attract people fleeing the Bay Area or those with higher paying jobs (like the kind at Aggie Square)…or maybe even at DISC itself.  Those home prices will be high which in turn will raise the prices of existing home prices.

     

    1. Bill Marshall

      UCD IS OUTSIDE OF DAVIS CITY LIMITS.  Long ago the two institutions decided to remain apart.  This means that UCD can set it’s own ordinances and is not subject to city governance, ordinances or taxation (sales tax).  So UCD is responsible for itself; including housing it’s revenue producing assets (students).

      Yet, there is substantial demand that UCD folk, living on campus, be entitled to vote on City ordinances, governance and taxation that they are not subject to…

      taxation (sales tax)

      Nor, share of property taxes… I wonder why you focused only on sales tax… but, not really important, but interesting…

      In short, representation without taxation… but able to vote for taxation of others, including long term debt.  Nice work if you can find it… that concept offended me when I was a UCD student… so, as long as I was a student, I voted @ my Bay Area home address… at the time, folk were talking about annexing the dorms for voting, but not accepting financial implications (taxation)… many still are…

      Students living off-campus should be voters… even for a short time, they, arguably, ‘have skin in the game’.

      1. Don Shor

        Generally people who have made the suggestion (I don’t recall any ‘demand’) that students have a vote do so by means of annexation of UCD property, at least the residential parts, into the city limits. Those who choose to live in Woodland, Dixon, or elsewhere including parts of Yolo County that are not in the city limits would, obviously, not be able to vote in city elections.
        This topic has come up many times over the years on the Vanguard. General consensus seems to be that it is very, very unlikely to happen. UC has no incentive to cede property or control to the City, nor even to enter into negotiations on the topic. UCD provides its own utilities, roads, services, etc., unlike some of the other UC campuses. The property tax benefits would be minimal since UC property is exempt. So the only real purpose for doing this would be to gain some sales tax revenues and enfranchise student voters. Not much incentive for the city to pursue that, either.

        1. Ron Glick

          “So the only real purpose for doing this would be to gain some sales tax revenues and enfranchise student voters. Not much incentive for the city to pursue that, either.”

          Unless you believe, as I do, that empowering the student population cohort to have a real seat at the table of Davis politics is worthwhile in the pursuit of the ideals of American representative democracy.

          Otherwise we are no better than any of these other places that seek to suppress young voters through whatever means possible.

          As for property taxes, when discussions were happening about whether to annex West Village, UC was willing to make up the lost revenue from being tax exempt and pay the costs for services provided by the city through a M.O.U.

           

        2. Keith Y Echols

          Otherwise we are no better than any of these other places that seek to suppress young voters through whatever means possible.

          Just to be clear, Davis is also suppressing all the poor UCD students and workers that live in Woodland, Dixon, West Sacramento too.  As I said in another post; I have this great idea.  We should draw a line somewhere to help define who gets to vote and who doesn’t.

          Nothing’s stopping students LIVING IN DAVIS from voting.

          Also, I’m pretty sure UCD has no interest in being annexed into the city either.  I could be wrong, but I think they like their civic autonomy.

          1. David Greenwald

            ” We should draw a line somewhere to help define who gets to vote and who doesn’t.”

            We do. The point that Ron Glick is making is that that line should be somewhat different than what it is now.

        3. Keith Y Echols

          We do. The point that Ron Glick is making is that that line should be somewhat different than what it is now.

          You’re right.  City limit lines never occurred to me!  There goes my great idea!

          WHY?  How is it in the city’s (existing community) best interest to annex UCD or just it’s dorms?  As I said, I’m pretty sure UCD isn’t interested in being annexed to the city.

          Just making up for lost tax revenue under the current county and city agreements wouldn’t work either; it’s still be a net negative revenue cost to the city going forward because of the cost of providing ongoing services (unless UCD wants to continue providing those too…..to which I’d ask why would UCD even bother ceding over the dorms at that point?)

          And from a community stand point, do we really want to absorb 1000s of short term residents into the community?  Their priorities are often not going to be the same as the long term residents in the community.  Short term residents already exist in the community.  But absorbing UCD or even just the dorms would shift the community socio-political make up towards those who tend to have more short term community priorities.

        4. David Greenwald

          I think you ask two reasonable questions that should be considered for this point.  I’ll be interested to see how Ron Glick responds to those questions.

        5. Keith Y Echols

          And to be clear, I’m not saying that the city shouldn’t pursue more student housing projects.  But I think all housing needs to be done with a goal in mind (other than simply providing housing for housing sake).  In the case of DISC; the housing there is necessary to get a commercial business park completed which will (in theory) generate positive tax revenue for the city.  In the case of students, IMO there needs to be a retail component to student housing that captures more sales tax revenue.

          The other day I drove down Russell Blvd. and saw a newish apartment building…identity I think it’s called?  I saw it and thought; what is the point of that monstrosity of a building (other than to just house people for housing’s sake)?  That thing should have the entire bottom floor and probably the second floor (in an open terraced structure to the street) with a bodega, coffee shop…maybe even a student bar (which I just can’t see happening in Davis…but really should), maybe an entertainment venue on the bottom floors?

          1. Don Shor

            IMO there needs to be a retail component to student housing that captures more sales tax revenue.

            Students shop here. Davis gets much if not most of their sales tax. Less, obviously, as Amazon fulfillment centers and retail sites are established on campus. But as a purveyor of houseplants, I can assure you that UCD students do spend money in town. And the nature and number of restaurants in Davis is further evidence.

        6. Edgar Wai

          Re: Ron

          “So the only real purpose for doing this would be to gain some sales tax revenues and enfranchise student voters. Not much incentive for the city to pursue that, either.”
          Unless you believe, as I do, that empowering the student population cohort to have a real seat at the table of Davis politics is worthwhile in the pursuit of the ideals of American representative democracy.

          The concept of “American representative democracy” in the quote above is anti-autonomy. An alternative is the following:

          Hospitality Principle is a Choice Democracy implementation that rewards people/cities who are hospitable to others:

          Unless a regional host (UCD) agrees to yield land to others taking care of its guests, its guests have no right to demand others (Davis) to provide hospitality.

          Between UCD and Davis, UCD is the host of UCD students. UCD has the responsibility of taking care of its invited guests. If Davis accepts UCD students as residents, then Davis, by Hospitality Principle, gains the right to the corresponding land that UCD owns. >> This means that Davis annexing UCD land should be a requirement for Davis to grant those UCD students the right to vote (which at the same time grants existing Davis residents the right to vote on the annexed UCD land).

          This relationship is transitive: UCD as a host has a right to claim land from where UCD students originate, including international lands. For example, if students come from China, Hospitalianism judges that UCD has a right to claim land in China because the student chose to come here to study and live. Transitivity leads to the simplification of calculating Net Migration Rate (NMR).

          The NMR of UCD and Davis are most likely both positive (There are more people moving into Davis than moving out). USA as a whole is also positive. Examples of countries with negative NMR would be China and Mexico. A USA migration policy that allows immigrants from negative NMR countries without also annexing their territory will create injustice within USA. Therefore, the root cause of Davis housing issue is a missing international peace treaty, which should include the following laws:

          1) NMR- countries to yield resources to NMR+ countries.
          2) NMR+ countries to stop admitting immigrants from NMR- countries.
          3) NMR+ countries to enforce intellectual property rights against NMR- countries.
          4) NMR+ countries to gain increased rights on future natural resources (NMR- countries have no rights to claim additional resources, on or beyond the Earth.)

          On the other hand, Hospitality Principle can be practiced by an autonomy of any size. The exploiter wants to take autonomy of the exploited for free when they have room to pay for fair trade. As long as the exploited hold their stance and demand fair trade, the exploiter can only comply.

          Therefore, if you want to do something about it locally you could hold the stance of not letting non-residents vote unless their origin city and your city have a hospitality agreement to re-allocate resources based on NMR.

        7. Matt Williams

          Between UCD and Davis, UCD is the host of UCD students. UCD has the responsibility of taking care of its invited guests.

          .
          Edgar has done the best job I’ve ever seen of distilling this issue down to its core essence.

        8. Keith Y Echols

          Students shop here. Davis gets much if not most of their sales tax

          I’m not implying students don’t spend money here.  What I’m implying is that they can spend more with more integrated and more conveniently located neighborhood retail options.  Plus, my ultimate plan would be to create a student centric area that had enough of a draw (entertainment, social gathering…etc…) that would draw similar socio-economic people into town to spend money and socialize with the students.

  2. Keith Y Echols

    Yet, there is substantial demand that UCD folk, living on campus, be entitled to vote on City ordinances, governance and taxation that they are not subject to…

    I mean…sure..ya…why not?  Let’s let Dixon and Woodland vote in Davis elections too since Davis housing decisions effect them too.

    Nor, share of property taxes… I wonder why you focused only on sales tax… but, not really important, but interesting…

    Because even if UCD were in city limits; I believe they (their property) still wouldn’t be subject to local property taxes.  I could be wrong about that.

    Students living off-campus should be voters… even for a short time, they, arguably, ‘have skin in the game’.

    So students living in Woodland, Dixon, West Sac should also be able to vote too?  How about people employed in Davis but live other communities?  Should they be able to vote in Davis city elections?  Ya know…I have an idea.  Let’s draw a line somewhere to definitively decide who can vote in city elections and who can’t.

     

    1. Bill Marshall

      Wow, Keith Y-E!

      I’ll have to re-proof what I posted… or you read things that weren’t there, by about 180 degrees…

      First, you are on the right track as to property tax (which you didn’t mention the first time)… even if the dorms were annexed to the City, as long as UC (the actual owner) owns the land, there will be no property tax levied, although UC could agree to offset the revenue (as in, when pigs fly)…

      Despite Don’s misunderstanding of what I posted, there are many who have strongly advocated for dorm annexation (absent any property tax revenues) to get on-campus students to vote in Davis municipal elections… I AM AGAINST THAT!  Is that clear enough?

      I welcome UCD students, residing within the City of Davis to vote locally, but I’d hope they refrain from voting on long-term bond/tax obligations that they’re not likely to be responsible for…

      I mean…sure..ya…why not?  Let’s let Dixon and Woodland vote in Davis elections too since Davis housing decisions effect them too.
      So students living in Woodland, Dixon, West Sac should also be able to vote too?  How about people employed in Davis but live other communities?  Should they be able to vote in Davis city elections?  Ya know…I have an idea.  Let’s draw a line somewhere to definitively decide who can vote in city elections and who can’t.

      Can’t tell if you’re ‘over the top’ or ‘under the bottom’ ascribing those views to me.  Those type of views are the 180 degrees different from how I roll.

      Whatever.

  3. Craig Ross

    I was reminded of this point made by a developer of another project

    Dave Nystrom, the project manager, told the Vanguard “one of the challenges (businesses in the park) face is hiring people because it’s so difficult to find housing in Davis.  People I think have an expectation that if they’re going to work in Davis, they’re going to live in Dixon or Woodland or West Sacramento because the housing market is just so tight

  4. Ron Glick

    “You’re right.  City limit lines never occurred to me!  There goes my great idea!”

    If only that was the case. The City made an exception when we allowed residents of Aggie Village, a faculty housing project on University land, to vote in city elections. I don’t recall the mechanics involved but it might have involved annexing university land into the city. So when it comes to faculty housing there isn’t a problem with people living on university land voting in the city but when it comes to student its no go. In my mind that is a policy of student voting suppression by design, pure and simple, and, I believe its as reprehensible as anything you might find in some other jurisdictions that seek to disempower student votes.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Fact:  Aggie Village is within Davis City limits… so,

      The City made an exception when we allowed residents of Aggie Village, a faculty housing project on University land, to vote in city elections.

      is patently false… the ‘”quid pro quo”, was that that housing was to also made available to DJUSD and City employees… I do not know current status… those units are 99-year lease arrangements, neither “ownership” nor “rental”, in the conventional sense…  it is an anomaly, and not a real good ‘precedent’…

      Many senior staff pointed out the potential problems, but it came down to sheer politics… associated with Davis Commons and wanting Borders and other commercial tenants within City limits…

      As I recall, there was a “in-lieu-of property tax” agreement reached… no clue as to current status of that…

      Aggie Village, like Davis Commons is served for sanitary sewage and domestic water by the City.

       

      1. Ron Glick

        Thanks for the refresher.

        At the time they couldn’t sell all the units to faculty so they allowed other public service employees to get in. My point is still valid. The impediments to annexation are political. I remember having a private conversation with a CC member at the time whether West Village was being planned who made the exact same argument about student interests not being the same as the interests of other residents. When you keep people from voting in elections because you believe they have different interests that is voter suppression. I believed it then and I believe it now.

        1. Keith Y Echols

          When you keep people from voting in elections because you believe they have different interests that is voter suppression.

          It would be voter suppression if Davis were carving out ways to keep students INSIDE the city from voting.  It’s not voter suppression by choosing not to annex more land and students inside of Davis.  Like I said, why stop there?  Keep on annexing to allow more and more people to vote in Davis elections?  Their votes are being suppressed too!

  5. Ron Glick

    “Their priorities are often not going to be the same as the long term residents in the community.  Short term residents already exist in the community.”

    So if people might have different interests we should not allow them to vote in our elections. Do I have that right? Even though there will always be a large cohort of ephemeral voters only the votes of long term residents should influence who represents the community. To accomplish this long term resident voter hegemony we simply don’t annex the thousands of existing and future student beds on campus into the city. All the while demanding that the University should provide ever more housing where those additional students won’t get to vote in city elections instead of in the city where they could participate in local elections. 

    Its a giant self perpetuating voter suppression policy and it works.

    1. Keith Y Echols

      Jesus…”voter suppression”. Let’s annex Dixon and Woodland too so they can vote in Davis elections…we wouldn’t want to suppress them either.

      1. Bill Marshall

        “Let’s annex Dixon and Woodland too so they can vote in Davis elections…”

        You forgot Dixon and Allendale… easier to annex properties by County, than by City…

        No one has proposed that… you keep throwing out “red herrings”…

        Whatever…

        1. Keith Y Echols

          you keep throwing out “red herrings”…

          Nah,  I’m throwing out reductio ad absurdum reasoning.  Ron G believes that students should brought into the city through the annexation of the dorms (even though, I’m pretty sure UCD doesn’t want that).  His reasoning is that students outside of the current city limits should be brought into the city limits  so they can vote in Davis elections.  I’m saying why stop there?  There are plenty of UCD students in Dixon, West Sac, Sacramento, Woodland….etc… that go to UCD.  Why not annex them t00?  Let’s let everyone have a vote in Davis!

        2. Ron Glick

          “(even though, I’m pretty sure UCD doesn’t want that). ”

          How do you know that? You have no idea.

          At the time this was discussed back when West Village was being planned it wasn’t UCD that was opposed it was the City Council and the Board of Supervisors that opposed annexation. One big issue was whether the housing would count toward the the Sacog numbers. Another was the sales tax revenue would transfer from the county to the city if UCD was annexed. As for services UC was willing to sign an MOU with the city to pay for the costs to the city for providing services making the city whole.

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