My View: Davis Faces an Affordable Housing Challenge – Is Not Alone by Any Means

Photo by Liz Sanchez-Vegas on Unsplash

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – Earlier this week the Davis City Council heard a presentation on the city’s inclusionary housing policies.  While they took no action, they did create a subcommittee of Councilmembers Gloria Partida and Bapu Vaitla to work on crafting a permanent policy.

As the Vanguard reported earlier this week, the numbers are challenging, with the cost of land and construction pushing multifamily housing below the IRR (Internal Rate of Return) that makes the project pencil out and making the inclusion of affordable housing more difficult.

While the city of Davis is challenged to figure out ways to provide the affordable housing that HCD is requiring, it is by no means alone.

This week Politico reported on the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors this week in Washington, D.C.  Mayor after mayor expressed concerns about affordable housing.

“At the end of the day, as mayors, people aren’t looking to their senators to solve homelessness,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said.  “They’re not looking to their state legislators to solve homelessness. They’re looking to their mayor.”

Richmond, Virginia, Mayor Levar Stoney and others blamed “parasitic” capital investors making below-value cash offers as well as “short-term rental markets, house flippers and corporate investors as detractors in struggling housing markets.”

“Mayors cannot address this problem alone. We need to work together with all levels of government, private corporations, landlords, tenants and community organizations,” Stoney said. “Housing is a vaccine for poverty, and home ownership is one of the fundamental ways for families to build generational wealth.”

In Albuquerque, Mayor Tim Keller noted that his city didn’t face a housing shortage until a few years ago.

“All of a sudden, people want to move to Albuquerque,” he said.

“We’ve got to understand the big picture, but also the details. … The problem in our city is our zoning code,” Keller said. “We zoned our entire city for single-family dwellings, and it is destroying Albuquerque. It will hollow us out.”

Some mayors expressed irritation with funneling grant money through the state coffers instead of going directly to local leaders themselves.

“A lot of us are frustrated. We need more funds to go directly to local government,” Frank Cownie, the mayor of Des Moines, Iowa, said.

Some argue that the housing market is cooling.  The problem is that the decline in the market prices is not likely to solve the problem.  The costs are still well above previous years when the prices were unaffordable.

The good news is that, for the first time in a while, housing prices didn’t rise by double digits.  They are down about ten percent from the summertime peak.  But they are still up 8.4 percent compared to December 2021—so that’s not exactly solving the problem.

Moreover, with interest rates now surpassing seven percent on a 30-year mortgage, it’s actually worse than you think.

Affordable housing is the mechanism for people to be able to afford either rental housing or enter the housing market.

The city of Davis asked Cascadia to look at their inclusionary policy and Cascadia determined it was “challenging.”

For one thing, market rate development scenarios “do not meet target internal rate of returns (IRR).”  The target rate in both the downtown and outside the core is about 12% IRR.  In the downtown, the rate is 9.4 percent and outside the core it’s 10.2 percent.

“With historically high construction costs, today’s development environment is challenging,” Cascadia found.

Cascadia added, “Given today’s realities, project costs are outweighing project revenue. Making it even more challenging for inclusionary zoning policies to be effective.”

The problem that Davis faces is actually similar to San Francisco.

The Chronicle this week reported, “San Francisco’s quotas for affordable-housing units in new construction projects are a major factor making the vast majority of them economically unfeasible, according to a study that strikes at the heart of city housing policy.”

That study “casts further doubt on the city’s ability to meet a state mandate for 82,000 new units to be built by 2031, and underlines the continuing struggle to ease the housing crisis.”

Moreover, just like in Davis, “Even eliminating the quotas would not guarantee that developers would deem new projects profitable enough to undertake.”

“The feeling in the room is, dropping the inclusionary percentage” lower is needed, said committee member Whitney Jones.

That’s one of the suggestions that the city of Davis might have to take up as well—much to the chagrine of many who want to see more, not less, affordable housing.

One solution offered—the city buying land and then building affordable housing on it.

The Chronicle reported, “Century|Urban’s report estimated that the cost of land where construction is not already planned is now lower than during the 2011-2013 period, following the Great Recession.”

That might be the approach that the city of Davis will have to undertake as well.  If inclusionary housing is not viable, the city could take land it owns, say along Fifth Street, and bring in non-profits to raise the funding needed for affordable housing projects.

The city might also look into the possibility of buying some of the vacant land—limited as it is—in the city to do the same thing.  It would be a long, slow process to raise the funding needed and build the housing, but it would probably be a lot more efficient than attempting to pick off affordable housing 10 to 15 percent at a time.

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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21 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    David is right about one thing – Davis isn’t alone.

    New study shows private market can’t and won’t create workforce housing in SF

    The city’s own analysis shows that the entire Yimby narrative is based on a fundamental economic falsehood.

    Let me put it in my own simple terms: The problem isn’t CEQA, or neighborhood appeals, or zoning.

    It’s Capitalism, stupid.

    https://48hills.org/2022/11/new-study-shows-private-market-cant-and-wont-create-workforce-housing-in-sf/

  2. Ron Oertel

    And here’s another interesting article:

    San Francisco could eliminate all affordable-housing requirements for developers, (thereby) seriously endangering the viability of the city’s Housing Element—and most market-rate projects still wouldn’t be feasible in today’s market, a new study shows.

    The study, commissioned by the city’s economist and conducted by an outside real-estate firm, is the latest evidence that the state’s housing mandate, which says San Francisco needs 84,000 new units in the next eight years, is little more than a fantasy.

    https://48hills.org/2023/01/new-study-says-the-market-not-city-mandates-is-preventing-new-housing-construction/

    And here’s another article which shows something to really be concerned about:

    That same day, a deal that could have led to the creation of more than 100 units of affordable housing at a shuttered car wash on Divisadero Street fell through—largely, it appears, because of the mayor’s petty politics.

    Breed has opposed Preston in every race, and will run a candidate against him in 2024. The argument the mayor’s candidate will make is that Preston is against housing.

    Preston:  “There’s no way we can claim to be serious about ambitious new targets for affordable housing while staying silent in the face of this kind of obstruction by the mayor. It is beyond outrageous that we’re losing opportunity sites because of petty politics.”

    Breed’s office keeps saying that the notice will go out soon. Preston told me they’ve been saying that since last summer.

    Preston did not support the original plans for 400 Divisadero, which included 186 units of market-rate housing. Breed backed that deal, strongly.

    It fell through for the same reason a lot of market-rate housing deals are falling through: The developer couldn’t make the financing work.

    At the time, Preston and many others argued that this would be a great site for affordable housing. Turns out he was right. The last thing the mayor wants is to give him that victory.

    It’s also interesting that, other than a typically balanced Chron story by J. K. Dineen, there hasn’t been that much media attention to this.

    https://48hills.org/2023/01/breed-blocks-affordable-housing-project-in-district-5-for-petty-politics/

     

  3. Matt Williams

    While they took no action, they did create a subcommittee of Councilmembers Gloria Partida and Bapu Vaitla to work on crafting a permanent policy.

    .

    A very good choice as the subcommittee.  Both Gloria and Bapu campaigned with a strong focus on social Justice in housing.  They both are likely to be focused on action rather than talk.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Given their support for DISC (and the undisputed fact that its projected housing needs would not be met onsite – and with no plans whatsoever to do so elsewhere in the city), I’m not sure that these two understand the basic law of supply-and-demand.

      But truth be told, I don’t think a subcommittee (of any composition) is going to make one bit of difference.

      The state’s mandates will fail – statewide. In terms of actually getting the (enormous amount of) affordable housing built, at least.

      No way, especially in a housing and economic downturn.

      With Google now joining the ranks of tech employers laying off vast numbers of employees, for example.

  4. Moderator

    This comment was submitted but without the author’s full name. Just a reminder that in order to comment on the Vanguard you must register with your full name and a valid email address. 

     

    Davis needs affordable housing for college students, especially grad students not into group living,  single seniors needing Universal Design housing to age in place, and singles working at low paying jobs in the city. The city could promote conversion of  garages into studio apartment rentals as Junior Accessory Dwelling Units where the utilities are not separated from the homeowner’s bills. These policies could include grants to reduce conversion permit costs and city provided architectural plans for typical garage conversions. The state has been providing ADU grants of $40,000, currently on Pause, to build “granny cottages”, but few homeowners have the backyard space for those. Promoting Jr. ADUs could provide Davis thousands of low income housing units with minimal cost to the city and lower costs for the homeowners to build.

    1. Matt Williams

      Davis needs affordable housing for college students

      .

      Given the recurring growth of the UCD enrollment this “need” is a no brainer(no matter what contrarian opinion Ron Oertel might provide).  The numbers documenting that need are both available and indisputable.  With that said, it is important to define what the word “Davis” means.  If “Davis” means only the City of Davis, then the statement has flaws.  “Davis” in this context needs to mean the community.  The UCD campus is part of that community.

      When was the last “affordable” unit of student housing built on the UCD campus?  When was the last unit of affordable Faculty housing built on the campus?  When was the last unit of affordable Staff housing built on the campus?

      I believe the answers to those questions clearly present an argument why UCD should be given a RHNA allocation.  If they were, the “need” the poster described would have a solution for the problem it presents.

      single seniors needing Universal Design housing to age in place

      .

      My personal feeling is that this “need” is a “nice to have” rather than a “need.”  The reason I say that is the population trend of senior cohort in Davis according to the US Ccensus.  The substantial growth of that cohort indicates that any such “need” is marginal at best.

      singles working at low paying jobs in the city.

      .
      Here too the anonymous commenter is on the mark. This is the “need” cohort that I believe Bapu Vaitla and Gloria Partida represent  … not the Trackside cohort.  The good news for this cohort is 3820 Chiles Blvd, which is targeted at that demographic cohort. It would have been better if the Nishi project had been willing to serve this demographic cohort.  It is amazing what a small bit of backbone and courage on the part of City Council could have accomplished.  5,000 to 7,000 beds rather than 2,200 would have been good for both the aforementioned student need and the singles cohort working in Downtown jobs.

      The city could promote conversion of garages into studio apartment rentals as Junior Accessory Dwelling Units where the utilities are not separated from the homeowner’s bills. These policies could include grants to reduce conversion permit costs and city provided architectural plans for typical garage conversions. The state has been providing ADU grants of $40,000, currently on Pause, to build “granny cottages”, but few homeowners have the backyard space for those. Promoting Jr. ADUs could provide Davis thousands of low income housing units with minimal cost to the city and lower costs for the homeowners to build.

      .

      This is a useful suggestion, but it only nibbles around the edge of the problem. Bottom line the best solution to the issues the poster has raised is assigning UCD with a RHNA allocation.  Since UCD has direct access to the copious amount of State funding, it is also the solution that is most likely to actually produce affordable housing.

      1. Richard_McCann

        Matt

        The UC campuses will never get an RHNA allocation for obvious political reasons. It’s much more likely that PG&E will be taken over by the state. 15 years ago I suggested to Lois Wolk that she put in a bill to amend CEQA so that an agency such as UC couldn’t be both the proponent and lead agency. She said that would never happen but she suggested instead a (toothless) revision to make it more transparent would be the solution. Since UC is a constitutional agency (like the CPUC), it stands above direct regulation by the Legislature or any state agencies, so this won’t ever happen. Like Todd’s dream of acquiring the PG&E Yard, we need to set aside these fantasies and solve our local problems within the institutional confines that we’ve been given.

        1. Matt Williams

          We need to […] solve our local problems within the institutional confines that we’ve been given.

          I don’t disagree with your point in principle Richard, and I actually apply that principle in my thinking when I look at the RHNA allocation that HCD and SACOG give to the various communities.  Since the formula/calculations is a “black box” and immune to scrutiny, the public is reduced to speculation about the methodology and its results.

          In past SACOG presentations that I have attended their high-level description of the process was as follows (Note: the process could have changed). 1) SACOG receives a regional allocation from HCD 2) the regional allocation is subdivided by County 3a) the resultant County allocation is then subdivided with each incorporated  City getting a portion and the Unincorporated County getting a portion. with 3b) those proportions being calculated based on existing population, housing demand being created, and available developable land.

          There are two “institutional confines” that affect that allocation which wave red flags for me.  The first is the jurisdictional boundaries between the four incorporated cities and the unincorporated County.  Those “institutional” boundaries put UCD with its attendant existing population and supply and demand realities squarely in the Unincorporated County. The second of those institutional confines is LaFCO with its various rules, regulations and procedures for consideration of possible changes to any and all jurisdictional boundaries.

          To put the UCD impact into perspective, add 40,772 students plus 24,977 Faculty and Staff plus spouses and children and you get an aggregate population that is higher than Winters, West Sac, Woodland, or Davis.  That is a whole lot of housing demand.  When one looks at the supply of housing that each jurisdiction provides to meet its demand, the ratio of beds supplied to beds demanded is almost surely very low when compared to each of the four cities and/or the unincorporated County.

          Developable land availability within the City of Davis jurisdiction is much lower than on the campus jurisdiction as well.

          So the question arises, how does SACOG factor in all those  issues when it subdivides the total Yolo County allocation?

    2. Ron Oertel

      no matter what contrarian opinion Ron Oertel might provide

      Ron Oertel has not put forth any “contrarian opinion” in regard to your comment above.  However, he (also) might note the following (in support of your response):

      Un-named commenter:  “single seniors needing Universal Design housing to age in place”.

      Matt:  “My personal feeling is that this “need” is a “nice to have” rather than a “need.”  The reason I say that is the population trend of senior cohort in Davis according to the US Ccensus.  The substantial growth of that cohort indicates that any such “need” is marginal at best.”

      I’d note several things, regarding this cohort:

      1)  Most already “age in place”.  This is the reason that the “growth” of the senior population exists in the first place. Turns out that young people become middle-age people, who in turn become old people. And quite often, they don’t want to go through the enormous expense and hassle of moving out of a home they like during their senior years, for no particular reason.

      2)  The growth of “single” seniors is not going to impact #1 very much.

      3)  WDAAC was approved for seniors.  How much “more” of that is needed, especially when considering point #1, above?

      4)  Isn’t this the purpose of the senior mobile home park on Pole Line?  (Which is actually pretty nice.)

      5)  Isn’t this also the purpose of the housing (built within the last 15 years or so) next to Explorit?

      6)  “Senior housing” (of any type) might ultimately have the “highest” turnover, of all.  And most of those ultimately “moving out” don’t need any housing, at all.  (I say that as someone who is closer to the “latter category”, than any “former category”.)

      Though I’m considering having any housing I occupy at that final date buried with me.  (Either that, or a pyramid erected on the site.)

       

       

        1. Ron Oertel

          Contrarian:  A person who holds a contrary position, especially against a majority.  (Had to look it up, though I can’t find a link that works regarding that specific definition.)

          Maybe.

          Though truth be told, I’m not so sure.  Usually, those pushing the “majority” opinion have some underlying financial backing regarding their “opinions”, and are busy labeling the (actual) majority as “NIMBYs”.  Hence, the war on cities, initiated by the state and the interests which support them. (The latter is most-likely not a “majority” opinion, and there’s some pretty strong evidence which shows that.)

          And if you can’t see that, perhaps you’re a “contrarian”, yourself.

          Either that, or completely naive.

          Take your pick.

        2. Matt Williams

          Ron, you have cherry picked just the dictionary meaning of the word.  If you had used Google to look further, with an eye toward the behavior associated with contrarians you would find something like this … Being contrarian means you’re creating an end point and working backwards, without even knowing how you’re going to get to the “finish line”.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Matt:  The definition I listed was literally the first one that came up.  I’m not even seeing the definition you’re now claiming to use.

          But before you start labeling people, maybe you should (first) point out what you think I’m “disagreeing” with (or working “backwards” toward)

          Let alone whatever undefined “end point” or “finish line” you’re referring to.

          Regardless of whatever definition you want to use to label me, all you’ve done here is speculate regarding what I might disagree with:

          Given the recurring growth of the UCD enrollment this “need” is a no brainer (no matter what contrarian opinion Ron Oertel might provide).

          Talk about am out-of-the-blue, unnecessary “strawman” comment!

          And in regard to your own comment, I suppose you’re claiming to work toward a “finish line” of some sort, in contrast to whatever “finish line” you think I’m working against?

  5. Todd Edelman

    Great links, Ron O! I would love to see Davis use a slogan like “We are not fools or liars: Equity is not compatible with capitalism. It’s at best an impossible goal and process that we can grind towards with a fork stolen from the prison of our minds, sharpened to penetrate the walls of our cell”.

    I would appreciate a link to the famous or infamous infill study that seems to steer the possibility or famine engine of Davis’s housing gestalt.

    I am curious about any studies on some form of nationalization of the construction industry that keeps worker and supervisor, etc. income as now – and progressing with inflation, etc. – but consolidates and rationalizes management.

    I am also curious if sort of new and evolving construction techniques for e.g. building pre-fab, kits etc off-site can reliably be used to project lowering of housing costs.

    I am curious if there is any evolving legislation on fees etc that make it simply more expensive to provide parking spaces for private motor vehicles than to provide the equivalent mobility in the form of public transportation and cycling, and even things like a carshare mechanism for people who do driving deliveries.

    I am curious how much money can be saved by not attaching new housing to the sewer grid, or in a lesser scale, to avoid extensive excavation and purchase of and laying of large sewer pipes.

    I am curious if the state government can facilitate the creation of studies related to all of the above, and if it makes sense to require them in connection with housing requirements from regional government entities such as SACOG.

  6. Ron Oertel

    ” . . . and home ownership is one of the fundamental ways for families to build generational wealth.”

    Isn’t this one of the complaints of the YIMBYs in regard to both “NIMBYism”, and what they claim is an underlying motivation to “protect home values”?

    And yet, they’re simultaneously supporting more of this concept.

    Given their negative view of human nature (e.g., once people become homeowners), why is it that they want to support policies which encourage even more of this?

    Could it be that they’re talking out of both sides of their mouths, as usual?

    Or perhaps more accurately, simply hoping that no one notices gaping, logical holes in what they say? (Usually at that point, interjecting claims of the “racism trump card”, as well.) Literally – in regard to UCD’s professor Elmendorf (and others). I dunno, I guess that works on some people (but I’m guessing it’s actually having the opposite effect, overall).

    1. Don Shor

      What makes for a more diverse community is move-up housing. When renters can save enough money for a down payment and buy a home, whether s-f or half of a duplex or a manufactured house. Davis is short of that type of housing because many of the older s-f homes are student rentals, and because failing to allow a steady supply of new homes prevents the turnover that allows the move up. That is why our schools are losing population.
      People who are saving up and finally buying those homes are going to Woodland and Dixon and West Sac because their choices here are so limited.
      The simplest way Americans have built wealth to fund their retirements and to pass on to their children has been by buying a home and having it appreciate in value over many years.
      The simplest move-up homes are duplexes and their ilk, because they can be integrated into existing neighborhoods without much impact. It’s not much different than adding bedrooms to a s-f rental. But it allows people to gain entry into the housing market, have 1/3 of their income going to build their wealth rather than increase a landlord’s wealth.
      At this time there is a huge disparity as to who is renting and who is buying. Most of us probably know homeowners who leveraged their way from smaller homes or duplexes into the larger home they now occupy and which represents the largest fraction of their personal wealth.
      By excluding people of color from areas where housing values have increased — first systematically, and then by restricting housing growth — our housing market has functioned to sustain and increase the wealth disparity between different ethnic and racial groups.
      I know there are people who want to believe that all of that racial and housing discrimination is a thing of the past, but we have a multi-generational impact from past policies.
      Look at the genocide that occurred in Tulsa a hundred years ago (Tulsa “race riot”) and think about the consequences. A prosperous community of Black property and business owners had developed following the classic American dream of buying houses, starting businesses, and even providing financial services within their community to help others get a step on that ladder.
      All of that was destroyed, systematically and intentionally with full support of the legal authorities. All the wealth that several hundred Black families had created and accumulated was wiped out, many were killed, and the rest were driven from the community. Later their properties were bought up by white residents.
      Decades later there were apologies and some reparations. But the question is, what was the long-term impact of that? Because that was not an isolated event in American history.
      Where did the Blacks go who were driven from Tulsa? They had to leave with no financial resources and go to other cities where racial barriers to home ownership, covenants that excluded them from home ownership, existed to block them from creating and accumulating wealth. If they came to Sacramento, where could they live? How about Davis? If they could actually buy a house (unlikely), what value increase would it have over the next decades compared to wealthier white neighborhoods from which they’d been excluded?
      So the ripple effect of the Tulsa genocide continued for generations.
      A community that does not have a range of housing choices will likely become whiter, wealthier, and older. And in so doing, it precludes others from achieving wealth and a better life for their children.

      1. Ron Oertel

        What makes for a more diverse community is move-up housing.

        Do you mean something like WDAAC and its “Davis-connected buyer’s program”?  Where was Elmendorf’s concern at that time?

        When renters can save enough money for a down payment and buy a home, whether s-f or half of a duplex or a manufactured house. Davis is short of that type of housing because many of the older s-f homes are student rentals, and because failing to allow a steady supply of new homes prevents the turnover that allows the move up.

        Davis has a lot of housing (mostly single-family).  Most of the single-family rentals are near UCD, where families don’t necessarily want to live in the first place.

        There is no evidence whatsoever that a steadily-increasing supply of new houses in Davis increases turnover (on a per-capita basis).  For that matter, Spring Lake is already supplying housing for those who want to “move up” (in terms of bang for the buck).

        The Cannery built some of the type of housing you’re referring to (e.g., condos).  “Who” moved into them, for the most part?

        What makes you think that new inventory won’t simply be purchased by those moving from the Bay Area?

        That is why our schools are losing population.

        So?

        And since the school system is still losing population despite poaching students from Woodland, at what point is the school system going to address their problem?

        People who are saving up and finally buying those homes are going to Woodland and Dixon and West Sac because their choices here are so limited.

        They’re buying in those places because they’re cheaper (more for your money).

        But again, neither you nor I know “where” they moved from in the first place.

        The simplest way Americans have built wealth to fund their retirements and to pass on to their children has been by buying a home and having it appreciate in value over many years.

        Again, you can’t have it “both ways” in regard to this argument.  Supporting it when suits you, and opposing it when it doesn’t.

        The simplest move-up homes are duplexes and their ilk, because they can be integrated into existing neighborhoods without much impact.

        They’re not going to be tearing-down buildings to put those in.

        By the way, new developments (such as those in the nearby communities that you listed) are still overwhelmingly single-family, with yards, 2-3 car garages, etc. 

        Why do you suppose that is, despite the new laws in California?

        It’s not much different than adding bedrooms to a s-f rental. But it allows people to gain entry into the housing market, have 1/3 of their income going to build their wealth rather than increase a landlord’s wealth.

        Again, no one is going to be tearing-down existing single-family dwellings in mass, to “replace” them with a duplex.  Not even in places like San Francisco.

        And if they did, the evidence (e.g., cost) of doing so would virtually ensure further gentrification.

        Most of us probably know homeowners who leveraged their way from smaller homes or duplexes into the larger home they now occupy and which represents the largest fraction of their personal wealth.

        There are enormous costs associated with selling and buying houses, to the point where one really has to question if it makes sense.  (These costs/fees have increased over the years, and the Internet has somehow not reduced realtor fees.)

        Especially if staying within the same area, it makes more sense to stay put.  If the house was good-enough for you to move into in the first place, it’s good-enough now.  (Unless, of course, you make the choice to have rug-rats – which millennials are increasingly-declining to do.)

        Most of the “wealth” you’re referring to arose from increasing home values, not from “moving around”.

        I know of one couple (who were my parents’ age) who moved around quite a bit, and ended up going “downhill” as a result.

        By excluding people of color from areas where housing values have increased — first systematically, and then by restricting housing growth — our housing market has functioned to sustain and increase the wealth disparity between different ethnic and racial groups.

        You can “blame” the technology industry for this, more than anything else.  The funny thing is that none of the pre-existing homeowners in those areas “asked for” this to occur.  And yet, they’re suddenly accused of racism, just by remaining in their homes.  Good luck with that argument.

        But again, have you heard of the “Davis-connected buyer’s program” at WDAAC?  Where was Elmendorf and the YIMBYs, then?

        I know there are people who want to believe that all of that racial and housing discrimination is a thing of the past, but we have a multi-generational impact from past policies.

        Again, have you heard about the Davis-connected buyer’s program at WDAAC?

        The fact that this was supported by the council and voters might show how much Davis is actually concerned about that.

        Look at the genocide that occurred in Tulsa a hundred years ago (Tulsa “race riot”) and think about the consequences. A prosperous community of Black property and business owners had developed following the classic American dream of buying houses, starting businesses, and even providing financial services within their community to help others get a step on that ladder.

        All of that was destroyed, systematically and intentionally with full support of the legal authorities. All the wealth that several hundred Black families had created and accumulated was wiped out, many were killed, and the rest were driven from the community. Later their properties were bought up by white residents.

        Have home values risen in Tulsa, since the “whites” took-over?  (Compared to some place like the Bay Area?)  Somehow, I doubt it.

        Lots of atrocities have occurred over the years, not just those aimed at black people.  And yet (for whatever reason), they’re the group most “left-behind” compared to other groups.  Maybe it’s not directly related to housing.

        Decades later there were apologies and some reparations. But the question is, what was the long-term impact of that? Because that was not an isolated event in American history.

        True.  Have you heard of the Asian Exclusion Act?  The relatively-recent internment of Japanese Americans?  The wiping-out of Native American populations?

        And yet, some of these groups are doing pretty well.  (Not so much Native Americans who live on reservations without gambling operations, I believe.  Maybe that’s the type of “housing” that society should be concerned with?)

        Where did the Blacks go who were driven from Tulsa?

        I don’t know.  Do you?  How many people are we talking about, here?  And, did they then try to move to Davis?

        They had to leave with no financial resources and go to other cities where racial barriers to home ownership, covenants that excluded them from home ownership, existed to block them from creating and accumulating wealth.

        Just to be clear, racial covenants were deemed unenforceable in 1948.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelley_v._Kraemer#:~:text=Kraemer,-Article%20Talk&text=Edit-,Shelley%20v.,covenants%20cannot%20legally%20be%20enforced.

        But do you suppose that these convenants existed in all cities/communities, in the first place?

        I do know that redevelopment agencies bulldozed a lot of those communities in the 1960s (e.g., the Western Addition of San Francisco).

        There’s an interesting PBS program regarding the bulldozing of the area which is now Sacramento’s capital mall (which primarily displaced Asians, as I recall).

        If they came to Sacramento, where could they live?

        Probably not in the area that the redevelopment agency bulldozed.  (Hell, I think they even kick-out homeless people, there.)

        How did Oak Park become a predominantly-black area?  Or other parts of Sacramento, Stockton, Oakland, Richmond, Antioch, Pittsburg, etc.?

        By the way, you’ll probably recall the legal action that residents in Oak Park undertook against UC Davis, in regard to feared gentrification as a result of “Aggie Square”.

        Again, another example of the employment market – not housing, resulting in segregation.  

        How about Davis? If they could actually buy a house (unlikely), what value increase would it have over the next decades compared to wealthier white neighborhoods from which they’d been excluded?

        Much of the increased value of California homes has occurred in recent decades, not from the time that race-based exclusions were legal.

        But again, how much have housing prices risen in predominantly-black areas (e.g., Oakland, Richmond, etc.)?

        Left unanswered in all of this is “how” Asians in particular (who were also discriminated against) and to some degree Hispanics have “overcome” this past discrimination.  Not to mention immigrants, in general.

        So the ripple effect of the Tulsa genocide continued for generations.

        I doubt that the “Tulsa genocide” had any impact at all regarding the relative lack of black people in Davis.  (For that matter, even Woodland doesn’t seem to have a high percentage of black people.)

        They are, after all, still a “minority population”. However, there are cities in which the black population (including black homeowners) is much higher.  Some of them have risen in value quite a bit (e.g., Oakland, Richmond, Antioch/Pittsburg, Stockton, etc.)

        Again, I’m sure that this issue is more complicated than just pointing the finger at race-based covenants which ended in 1948.  Or, blaming a “lack of continued sprawl” as being at fault – anywhere.

        A community that does not have a range of housing choices will likely become whiter, wealthier, and older.

        And building more houses generally ensures a continuation of that.  There’s direct evidence showing this, over-and-over.

        And in so doing, it precludes others from achieving wealth and a better life for their children.

        Their children inherit those properties, including the increase in value.  I really doubt that those parents (or their kids) want to see their family home drop in value.

        Maybe the “answer” to past discrimination isn’t more sprawl.  (It hasn’t worked so far, though I suppose you could argue that places like Natomas, Elk Grove and Rancho Cordova are more diverse than some other communities.)

        Then again, Roseville, Folsom, El Dorado Hills, and Granite Bay (all of which are pursuing sprawl) are not becoming more diverse as a result.

        In fact, sprawl is generally associated with “white flight” and more segregation – not less. How is it that some are suddenly claiming the exact opposite of that?

        And neither is San Francisco becoming more diverse, despite the massive new developments that have occurred there over the past decade or so.  For the most part, it’s led to gentrification.

        Again, this demonstrates that economic development leads to segregation.

        1. Ron Oertel

          I would add that as long as folks are intending to make “reparations via sprawl”, then you’d have to also include any other group (based upon skin color) who haven’t “reached the level of whites” (assuming that whites haven’t already been surpassed in wealth or income by some group or another).

          And you’d have to ensure that any reparations aren’t taken from any group other than whites. You can’t, for example, take reparations from Hispanics and give them to blacks. At least, not without taking them from whites (and probably Asians), first.

          You’d probably also need to ensure that whomever you are giving reparations to, or taking reparations from, are “who” they claim to be. (A sometimes-bitter issue with Native American tribal membership, as well.)

          For example, a “half-white” president might only quality for half of the amount of reparations via sprawl, vs. someone who has no white background at all.

          I’d suggest some spreadsheets, to figure this all out. I’d provide some examples, but someone might find it offensive (for no actual reason, since this is actually what would need to be done to make it “fair via skin color”).

          Of course, this would not make things fair via actual wealth, unless you have some illogical way to explain it to poor whites in Appalachia, for example.

  7. Ron Oertel

    Another interesting article in regard to San Francisco’s housing element:

    Supes to consider housing farce—and start on the mayor’s budget

    Everybody knows the Housing Element won’t work, but it’s going to be approved anyway.
    Chair Myrna Melgar and members Dean Preston and Peskin will get to ask the planning staff questions, and the public will be able to comment on how the city is going to comply with a state mandate that is so far from possible that I can’t believe anyone is taking it seriously.

    Of course, the state continues to say that allowing for 84,000 new units of housing, 46,000 of them affordable, in San Francisco is both realistic and necessary. So the city, to avoid facing a loss of housing money and other penalties, has to play the game.

    The city’s own figures show that the cost of building 46,000 units of affordable housing is at least $19 billion. Does anyone at the Planning Department or in the Mayor’s Office have any idea where that money is going to come from? If not, why are we promising to do something that we’re never going to do?

    https://48hills.org/2023/01/supes-to-consider-housing-farce-and-start-on-the-mayors-budget/

    (It’s actually becoming kind of amusing.)

  8. Richard_McCann

    First, let’s be very clear about the definition of “urban sprawl”. The interpretation I’ve seen is very sloppy. What sprawl IS NOT is simply building on previously undeveloped land. If that is working definition, then ALL human land development is sprawl. Obviously that is a foolish interpretation of the term.

    A reasonable definition is as follows from the Encyclopedia Britannia: https://www.britannica.com/topic/urban-sprawl

    Urban sprawl, also called sprawl or suburban sprawl, the rapid expansion of the geographic extent of cities and towns, often characterized by low-density residential housing, single-use zoning, and increased reliance on the private automobile for transportation.

    Importantly, no one in Davis is proposing this type of development if at all possible, in contrast to other neighboring communities. Proposals in Davis have higher densities, incorporate multi-use density and add transit service and bike paths. That moniker cannot be simplistically and arbitrarily slapped on every new development proposal here.

    Second, if one was familiar with the premise of reparations, he would understand that the motivation IS NOT simply to arrive an equal outcome. The actual premise is that a large portion of our country’s wealth has been built by stealing the labor of at least one prominent ethnic group that has also faced explicit, even government sanctioned, discrimination that prevented them from accessing the same avenues of wealth accrual as the dominant white population. The focus is on the group that has been exploited and excluded for four centuries, with at least 350 years of that first as slaves and then as serfs and chattel. Indigenous groups similarly went through the same exploitation, and they also are potential candidates for reparations. Only sloppy reasoning used in the interest of promoting one’s self interest tries to make this more than it actually is.

    1. Ron Oertel

      First, let’s be very clear about the definition of “urban sprawl”.

      O.K.

      Urban sprawl (also known as suburban sprawl or urban encroachment[1]) is defined as “the spreading of urban developments (such as houses and shopping centers) on undeveloped land near a city.”[2]

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_sprawl

      Richard: A reasonable definition is as follows from the Encyclopedia Britannia:

      https://www.britannica.com/topic/urban-sprawl

      Richard’s Quote:  Urban sprawl, also called sprawl or suburban sprawl, the rapid expansion of the geographic extent of cities and towns, often characterized by low-density residential housing, single-use zoning, and increased reliance on the private automobile for transportation.

      Richard’s Conclusion:  Importantly, no one in Davis is proposing this type of development if at all possible, in contrast to other neighboring communities.

      Actually, that’s pretty much all that’s every proposed – including on lands surrounding Davis. Though a proposal like DISC didn’t even include the additional sprawl that would be needed for its new workers (new residents).

      Proposals in Davis have higher densities, incorporate multi-use density and add transit service and bike paths. That moniker cannot be simplistically and arbitrarily slapped on every new development proposal here.

      Other cities have those characteristics and amenities to serve sprawl, as well.  In fact, it’s quite common, now. 

      (And since those developments generally have to pay for amenities, this increases the cost of that housing, as well.)  
       

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