By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – In the run up to the LRDP by UC Davis a few years ago, many in the community complained—rightly—that not only had UC Davis lagged behind other UC campuses in terms of on-campus housing, but it had also failed to live up to numerous agreements.
While UC Davis fell short of the request to put half their undergraduate students in housing on campus, they did go much further than they did previously.
The city hoped that they had solved that in 2018 when it was announced that the city, county and UC Davis “have agreed to a legally binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) on a series of shared goals and commitments to improve collaboration and partnership.”
According to the release, the terms of the MOU “include a commitment to build more housing for students and a guarantee to house 100 percent of any new student enrollment growth on campus, a joint transportation plan and traffic improvement projects, the elimination of master leases in the City of Davis, and forming a stronger town-gown partnership through a variety of collaborative activities.”
Councilmember Dan Carson called the agreement “a breakthrough for our community.
“This legally binding and enforceable agreement provides firm commitments for UC Davis to build more on-campus housing in sync with student enrollment increases as well as millions of dollars in funding to help mitigate the impacts of campus growth on our community,” he said.
He added, “As important, the City of Davis and the campus are committing themselves to pursue various joint housing, transportation, and strategic planning initiatives with clear processes for the city to seek additional help in dealing with the impacts of enrollment growth.”
Flash forward to 2022.
This week, UC Davis announced it has “more than fulfilled its student-housing construction commitments so far under a memorandum of understanding with the city of Davis and Yolo County,” and is “on-track to hit its 2023 commitment of 15,000 beds on campus,” said Mike Sheehan, associate vice chancellor of housing, dining and divisional operations for Student Affairs.
“This is a direct result of UC Davis’ dedication to the MOU and the student body,” Sheehan said in a follow-up to a report he gave at a Nov. 30 town-gown meeting of the parties to the MOU, which they signed in 2018.
At the meeting, Sheehan and Lucas Griffith, director of campus planning, according to the UC Davis news report, detailed the addition of roughly 6,000 bed spaces since 2017, including about 1,500 that will come online with the opening next fall of the new Orchard Park Apartments for families and graduate students.
“Back in 2018 we said we took a hundred years to accommodate 9,000-plus students on campus, and in our last five years we’ve accommodated over 6,000 additional … a pretty phenomenal accomplishment,” Griffith told the so-called 2X2X2 committee (two representatives each from the city, county and university). Chancellor Gary S. May and Vice Chancellor Clare Shinnerl of Finance, Operations and Administration attended as the UC Davis delegates.
Under the MOU, UC Davis must provide campus housing for 100% of the actual student population in excess of baseline enrollment of 33,825, which is the average of fall, winter and spring quarter enrollments in 2016-17.
By 2021-22, the university claims “UC Davis had added 3,119 students — thus, the agreement required 3,119 new bed spaces. Instead, UC Davis is doubling that number, and, by the way, exceeding by 1,000 the university’s total projected enrollment growth by 2030-31.”
As more bed spaces are added, the percentage of students who live on campus is also growing, from 29% in 2016-17 to 38% today — about halfway toward the university’s goal of 48.4% in 2030-31.
While that is short of where some wanted it to be at 50 percent, it is a huge increase from 2016.
Sheehan gave a rundown of the projects completed since the fall of 2017 and the forthcoming Orchard Park:
- Tercero Phase IV, residence halls — 500-bed increase, completed
- Sol Double-Up, apartments at UC Davis West Village — 550-bed increase, completed
- Shasta Hall and Yosemite Hall, Cuarto residence halls (the old Emerson and Webster halls, redeveloped) — 440-bed increase, completed
- The Green at West Village, apartments — 3,290-bed increase, completed
- Orchard Park, apartments — 1,549-bed increase, on track for opening fall 2023
“Achieving these results in an aggressive timeline and during the pandemic is a monumental success,” Sheehan said in his follow-up report.