Commentary: Looking at the City/UC Davis Dynamic in Terms of Housing and Growth

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – No discussion of housing in Davis can take place without acknowledging two realities—one being Measure J and the other being UC Davis.  For the last decade or so, a heavy debate has focused, particularly in the slow growth community, about UC Davis.

A lot of residents of Davis frankly blame UC Davis for forcing growth on the city of Davis.  And there is a good amount of truth to that.  The conversation quickly focuses on some notion of UC Davis taking on its share of the housing impacts of its growth, how much obligation the city has to the university, and whether UC Davis will add more housing, both for students but also faculty and staff on campus.

In general, I would argue that UC Davis has not traditionally put sufficient student housing on campus.  I would also argue that the city of Davis has not been a great host community to the university, which is going to have some pretty serious ramifications down the road as UC Davis looks more toward Sacramento for its future growth potential, to the detriment of Davis.

In general, I take a more nuanced view of the situation.

Let me address a few key issues from my perspective.

In 2015, when the university was looking at its latest LRDP, it seemed rather obvious that the university had not done nearly enough to address a pretty serious student housing crisis.  Here again there was plenty of blame to go around.

UC Davis at that time had only housed 28 percent of their students on campus, which was I believe the second lowest in the UC system at the time.  That clearly was not helpful and not acceptable and the initial drafts of the LRDP frankly were not good enough.

With community and city pressure, the university pushed their on-campus housing projected to nearly 48 percent.  We can quibble as to whether it should be higher, but clearly that was a vast improvement over before.

But at the same time, the city hadn’t really done its part to deal with housing in town either.  The city, up until Sterling was developed, had gone over 15 years without adding market rate student housing in town—which, given the growth of the university, didn’t make a lot of sense.

Moreover, land use battles over West Village not only delayed on-campus housing, but probably more than anything else poisoned city-university relations to the point where they may be permanently damaged.

The city can point to the MOU as a positive perhaps, but the fact that UC Davis went to Sacramento for Aggie Square and stayed out of DISC should tell you a lot about the future—UC Davis is going to avoid dealing with Davis where it can and will put a lot of its growth and investment into Sacramento.

A second point: I’m really not that keen on putting a lot of non-student housing on the UC Davis campus.  We can argue about whether UC Davis should do more to provide housing for faculty and staff, but there are a lot of disadvantages to putting a lot of people on campus as opposed to in the city.

Do we really want a community of 30,000 next to the city?  They would be people who de facto live in the city but are disenfranchised.  Moreover, they figure to have traffic and safety impacts without actually being citizens.

Moreover, I don’t see that building on farmland at UC Davis is that much better than building on farmland on the north side of the city.

There is a slight advantage with traffic putting housing next to campus, but looking at the travel data, it’s really not as much as you might think.

And if you think in terms of RHNA, it might actually be worse for slow growthers, because you end up having housing on campus that doesn’t count for the city’s RHNA figures and you still end up with housing requirements in the city.  You could end up having to build more housing.

Finally, there has been this long debate over the benefit incurred by the city to having a university next door.  You can look in terms of the percentage of people in Davis employed by the university.  You can also look the value incurred to housing from the proximity to the university.

There are those who argue that, without UC Davis, Davis would look like Dixon.

That said, I don’t necessarily believe that Davis has an obligation to the university as much as it has an obligation to itself.  As I mentioned in the previous section, I don’t see forcing the university to build a bunch of housing that’s not part of the city as being advantageous.

Second, the idea that the city and university are not interconnected and adjacent is ludicrous.  As such, the city limiting its housing or not building sufficient student or faculty housing is only going to hurt it, by driving up the cost of living, and creating scarcity.

The lack of student housing has led to low vacancy rates and pushed a lot of single family homes to become mini-dorms rather than serve families.

Thus I would argue that the city needs to provide housing in order to have a healthy housing market, to maintain its supply of housing for families with children, and to continue to have a community that serves the needs of all its residents.

Clearly, both the city and the university could do better in this regard and do a better job than they have of working together.  But at the end of the day, the university is kind of the 800-pound gorilla, and the city’s ability to shape their decisions is not only at times futile, but also counterproductive.

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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65 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    Davis, CA – No discussion of housing in Davis can take place without acknowledging two realities—one being Measure J and the other being UC Davis.  For the last decade or so, a heavy debate has focused, particularly in the slow growth community, about UC Davis.

    There’s “other” realities, as well.

    First off, there’s been no discussion regarding how much UCD has actually expanded its staff, over (for example) two points in time. In other words, the net increase.

    Secondly, there’s been no discussion regarding the impact of increased housing in surrounding communities, which are probably accommodating much MORE than that increase.  (Those plans were already-established, and Davis has no say in them.)

    Thirdly, there’s been no analysis whatsoever regarding turnover of existing housing, and how that addresses “demand”.

    I just looked at the results from one builder, in one development in one city (Woodland) and found 37 brand-new houses for sale, right now.  (Not to mention what’s offered by other builders, and the entire pre-owned housing market.)  There’s also another 1,600 housing units in the pipeline, at the planned technology park.

    Can someone explain how this translates into a “housing crisis”? Because I’m not seeing it. Again, the housing in the southern part of Woodland in particular is a short/easy commute to UCD – easier and less-congested than most of the peripheral sites surrounding Davis.

    Could it be that there’s actually a GLUT of local housing available?

    https://www.lennar.com/find-a-home?state=CA&market=SAC&city=woodland

     

     

    1. Ron Oertel

      Oh, and if you want to “purposefully” ignore all of this (along with the price difference), how much did The Cannery (and other developments in Davis) accommodate the “new growth” created by UCD?

      (You know – the net growth in staff that hasn’t even been quantified in the first place – despite being the “centerpiece” of David’s article.)

      And didn’t UCD have plans to accommodate some of their growth in staff on campus, as well?  Did they just “forget” about this, without even making any announcement or communicating that in any way, shape or form? Is that how planning is occurring, these days? And the city is now supposed to “respond” to that by approving sprawl?

      Or are these the folks that are primarily ending-up in Woodland, due to the price differential alone?

  2. Matt Williams

    A lot of residents of Davis frankly blame UC Davis for forcing growth on the city of Davis.  And there is a good amount of truth to that.  The conversation quickly focuses on some notion of UC Davis taking on its share of the housing impacts of its growth.

    .

    To add some specificity to the above statements one need go no further than the November 2002 commitment that UCD made to the UC Office of the President, all the other UCs, and to the city of Davis in November 2002 during the UC Housing in the 21st Century task force report (copy provided below).  If UCD had actually delivered on those promises, apartments in Davis would be less filled with students and more filled with families with children and more filled with Davis workforce employees.  Unfortunately UCD failed miserably to honor its commitments in that report, and we are all paying the consequences now, and have been paying those consequences for well over a decade.

    https://www.davisvanguard.org/uc-housing-in-the-21st-century-ucd-commitments/

    1. Eileen Samitz

      I completely agree with Matt regarding the history, and continued problem of UCD not producing nearly enough on-campus housing for its students. UCD also continues to renege on its promise to produce faculty and staff housing which they actually have reserved land for in West Village. So, while this UCD vacant land reserved for housing is just sitting there, it is outrageous to suggest that the City should instead provide more housing for UCD.

      It is complete nonsense to try to argue that UCD’s ag land would be used, because they have already reserved this land in west Village. Plus UCD has 5,300 acre campus  with a 900-acre core campus, the largest in the UC system. So how is it that they can’t manage to commit to 50% on-campus housing like all the other UCs?

      What the Vanguard continues to evade talking about which is the serious and fundamental problem that UCD continues to resist building higher density housing on campus. It is inexcusable that they keep building only 4-stories with a rare 5-story building for housing. It is wasteful of the footprint of land and it is the most inefficient and more costly to build only 4- or 5-stories. There is an economy of scale factor where the revenue return is far greater on collecting the rents for the additional housing units when you go higher. That is why all the higher density housing projects downtown proposed are 5-, 6-, and 7-stories.

      The Vanguard needs to stop running interference for UCD and start demanding that they start practicing what they teach which is that higher densities need to be on campus of 7-stories or more like the other UCs are building like UC Irvine and UC San Diego. If the other UCs can accomplish this, there is no excuse why UCD can’t unless they are simply incompetent. If that us the case they need to get new planning staff to step up to the job.

      Higher densities on campus needs to beginning with the redevelopment of Solano Park on campus being planned now to be a minimum of 7-stories. UCD needs to not screw up this opportunities like they have with all their previous on-campus housing project like Orchard Park on campus. It is an embarrassment that Orchard Park is a sprawling complex of housing that is only 4-stories which should have been 7-stories like the “Identity” student housing project right across the street on Russell Blvd.. That project was developed by a private developer who had to by the expensive land in the City and pay City development fees and they pay property  taxes, none of which UCD has to pay for. So don’t tell me UCD can’t build higher density housing like other UCs are and private developers.

      The Vanguard really needs to stop defending UCD’s negligence to provide on-campus housing that it is totally capable of building. The City has approved over 4,000 student beds in the City and it need to focus on housing for its workers and families now. UCD has the land and resources to build far more on-campus housing and they need to stop pushing their housing needs off campus which is seriously impacting Davis and surrounding cities who also complaining about UCD’s negligence.

       

      1. Richard McCann

        I don’t understand–UCD has committed to 48% of students on campus and the building activity appears to match that goal. Are we really going to argue over 2%, or are we going to concede UCD has effectively met that goal?

        I agree with David’s characterization of the inadvisability of housing faculty and staff on campus. Why is it so important to put employees on campus? For one thing, it effectively eliminates the ability of those households to build wealth through home ownership, an opportunity available to those who live in Davis, because UCD owns the land. It also eliminates local rule for them because UC becomes the effective jurisdiction (Yolo County has no real role there) without an elected board. It disenfranchises those employees.

        We now know that UCD cannot build the single family or smaller multi-family housing envisioned originally for West Campus due to various legal and regulatory constraints that drive up costs. It can only build high density housing cost effectively. That housing will not meet the needs of faculty and staff families. So that housing must be built in Davis if we are going to reduce the GHG footprint of UCD employees now commuting to campus from out of town (about 60%).

        Whether 5 story buildings would have a substantial effect on the total students housed is questionable. Maybe they can get to that last 2%.

        Proposals for extending on campus housing have gone beyond West Campus. For example, it was suggested that instead of building Nishii at that location, that UCD build on research fields in Solano south of I-80. Extending West Campus beyond the area already platted would do the same. Whether any active ag research land is “reserved” does not overcome the problem that the land will be converted to urban use to accommodated expanded housing. UCD ag land is worth much more than any other land around Davis because of the global effect from research done on that land.

        1. Eileen Samitz

          Quibble about 2%? 2% of  the 39,000 on-campus student population that UCD’s LRDP projects by 2031 is 780 student beds! That’s at least  3-4 large apartment complexes. And every bed taken by a UCD student that could be on-campus, is taking up a bed in the City. We need housing for our workers and families who can’t live on campus as UCD students and UCD employees can. Plus, students living on campus is far more sustainable planning since it reduces traffic, and circulation issues, as well as reduces parking demand, while also having the UCD students more conveniently closer to their classes.

          5-story to 7- story housing on campus, of course, would significantly increase the number of beds that UCD could provide. That is simple math. Why do you think developers are building 5-story to 7-story student housing in the City? It is the most efficient use of the land, and yields more revenue.

          UCD has over 5,300 acre campus with a 900-acre core campus, the largest in the UC system. So again, it is ridiculous and inexcusable that UCD is not building the needed housing on campus and at much higher densities. This needs to start with UCD’s Solano Park redevelopment on-campus which needs to be at least 7-stories just like the privately developed “Identity” student housing mega-dorm on Russell Blvd. right across the street from the embarrassingly low-density 4-story spawling UCD Orchard Park student housing complex on campus.

          And to try to argue that it is not possible for UCD to build more and higher density housing is also ridiculous. All the other UCs are building at least 50% on campus student housing and at higher densities except UCD, and so there is no excuse why UCD can’t.

          Finally, UCD always figures out a way to build their vanity projects on campus, so they can do the same with employee housing on campus.

           

      2. Ron Oertel

        I agree with David’s characterization of the inadvisability of housing faculty and staff on campus. Why is it so important to put employees on campus? For one thing, it effectively eliminates the ability of those households to build wealth through home ownership, an opportunity available to those who live in Davis, because UCD owns the land. It also eliminates local rule for them because UC becomes the effective jurisdiction (Yolo County has no real role there) without an elected board. It disenfranchises those employees.

        Who cares?

        Is the “concern” a place to live, or something “else”?

        And you’re claiming that they can’t vote on Davis city issues outside of city limits? How about if those living outside of city limits (elsewhere) get to vote on Davis issues, too?

        After all, you’re the one who seems to be concerned “for” non-residents in the first place. The only question remaining being “where” to draw the line. By region? By state? By country?

        As another commenter pointed out, “if only there was some kind of line, or boundary which delineates the scope of voting for cities”.

        We now know that UCD cannot build the single family or smaller multi-family housing envisioned originally for West Campus due to various legal and regulatory constraints that drive up costs. It can only build high density housing cost effectively. That housing will not meet the needs of faculty and staff families.

        Absolutely no facts presented above.

        So that housing must be built in Davis if we are going to reduce the GHG footprint of UCD employees now commuting to campus from out of town (about 60%).

        This sounds like yet another “unsupported percentage” from you.

        And by the way, NONE of those making an easy commute from the southern part of Woodland are going to move to a shoebox in Davis (or on campus, for that matter).  And you’ve already noted that the number of UCD (Davis) employees has been DECLINING in the first place!

        UCD ag land is worth much more than any other land around Davis because of the global effect from research done on that land.

        Is that right?  They’re claiming that they can’t accommodate their own needs on campus because they’re out to save the world, and need every last bit of their 5,300 acre campus to do so (including the core area)?  And that no research ever occurs on private land?

        Maybe they should tear down ALL of the buildings on campus, and devote ALL of the space to “research”.  Think of all of the lives it would save!

         

        1. David Greenwald

          “Who cares” in general is not a good discussion point because obviously someone cares in order to raise the point to begin with.

          “Is the “concern” a place to live, or something “else”?”

          I think your response once again demonstrates an insufficient grasp of the issue…

          “A place to live” basically suggests that there is no problem unless people are actually homeless. While that clearly is part of the part, the problem goes deeper.

          I think the point raised in the LAO’s definition is critical here: “California has a serious housing shortage. California’s housing costs, consequently, have been rising rapidly for decades. These high housing costs make it difficult for many Californians to find housing that is affordable and that meets their needs, forcing them to make serious trade-offs in order to live in California. The state’s housing crisis is one of the most difficult issues facing state policy makers.”

          CalMatters noted: “High housing costs are the major reason California has the nation’s highest rate of functional poverty and the second lowest rate of home ownership, just ahead of New York.”

          Housing is the key to building wealth and intergenerational wealth.

          So yes, it’s both a mismatch in supply and demand as well as cutting off people – many of whom are people of color – from the engine of creating wealth.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Who cares” in general is not a good discussion point because obviously someone cares in order to raise the point to begin with.

          It’s not a point that Richard actually “cares” about in the first place.  He’s essentially “throwing the kitchen sink” into his claim.  Why he does so is not clear.

          Keep in mind that this is a guy who (like you) wants to “disenfranchise” ALL voters, in regard to Measure J.

          “Is the “concern” a place to live, or something “else”?”
          I think your response once again demonstrates an insufficient grasp of the issue…
          “A place to live” basically suggests that there is no problem unless people are actually homeless. While that clearly is part of the part, the problem goes deeper.

          That’s not the basis for the argument (in regard to pursuit of sprawl, or building more on campus) for UCD employees.

          I think the point raised in the LAO’s definition is critical here: “California has a serious housing shortage. California’s housing costs, consequently, have been rising rapidly for decades. These high housing costs make it difficult for many Californians to find housing that is affordable and that meets their needs, forcing them to make serious trade-offs in order to live in California. The state’s housing crisis is one of the most difficult issues facing state policy makers.”
          CalMatters noted: “High housing costs are the major reason California has the nation’s highest rate of functional poverty and the second lowest rate of home ownership, just ahead of New York.”
          Housing is the key to building wealth and intergenerational wealth.

          You’re (once again) mixing two different issues, here.  One is “cost of living”, one is “building wealth”.  Housing is intended to live in, not to “build wealth”.  (It’s also not clear if your last sentence, regarding “building wealth” is even part of the CalMatters article.)

          But honestly, there is no “housing shortage” in the first place. There’s no basis for this claim, and the media generally doesn’t even attempt to analyze the claim. Again, I just listed 37 houses for sale from one builder, in one nearby community – which doesn’t even include all of the OTHER housing for sale.

          No evidence (and I mean NONE) has been provided regarding “lowering housing costs” via the pursuit of sprawl.

          Put forth some numbers (in terms of the amount of housing, vs. the supposed drop in housing prices).  And for that matter, wouldn’t building on campus have the same, claimed effect (on housing off-campus)?

          Pursuit of sprawl to supposedly lower housing prices is not a valid reason “justification” in the first place.  That’s a recipe for sprawl to continue indefinitely.

          But again, Richard himself has claimed that there’s been a reduction in the number of UCD employees in recent years.  How does that “justify” suddenly claiming that more housing needs to be built for that group?

          So yes, it’s both a mismatch in supply and demand as well as cutting off people – many of whom are people of color – from the engine of creating wealth.

          There’s the “race” argument rearing its ugly head.  We’re talking about UCD employees here in the first place, right?  Are they “impoverished”?  Are they generally “people of color” – excluding Asians?

          And again, that population (UCD Davis employees) has been DROPPING in the first place, according to Richard.

          We’re talking about a town (including “you”) who saw “nothing wrong” with the Davis-connected buyer’s program, at WDAAC.  And now you’re going to claim that pursuit of sprawl is needed to “justify” what, exactly?

          Look, if UCD employees want a place to live in the closest, least-environmentally impactful place – that’s on campus.

          If they instead want their “own” place (to supposedly “build wealth”, or for other reasons) – there’s plenty of housing in Davis and in surrounding communities which offer it.  Again, the commute from the southern part of Woodland is easier (less stop-and-go traffic) to UCD than any of the proposed peripheral sites in Davis.

          But again, this (“pursuit of wealth via homeownership”) is not a valid justification for continued sprawl – for ANY community.  It’s difficult to believe that you (or anyone) would suggest that it is.

          (Reminds me of how you believe that the city needs to “adjust its size” to meet the desires of a school district that won’t “right-size” itself voluntarily.)

           

          1. David Greenwald

            I think I explained my position well enough in the last post. I will note that this comment is false: “saw “nothing wrong” with the Davis-connected buyer’s program, at WDAAC.” I said from the start, I didn’t believe the buyer’s program would pass legal muster.

        3. Ron Oertel

          I will note that this comment is false: “saw “nothing wrong” with the Davis-connected buyer’s program, at WDAAC.” I said from the start, I didn’t believe the buyer’s program would pass legal muster.

          The perception (not just from me) is that had this not involved a proposed development, you would have been more-adamant in your opposition than simply noting that it likely would not have passed “legal muster”.

          In fact, I recall a series of articles in which you criticized the lawsuit, as well.

          1. David Greenwald

            There was a problem with the lawsuit legally that I criticized. It was withdrawn for the exact reason I criticized it.

  3. Matt Williams

    Thus I would argue that the city needs to provide housing in order to have a healthy housing market, to maintain its supply of housing for families with children, and to continue to have a community that serves the needs of all its residents.

    .

    The statement above is a gross oversimplification of the situation Davis faces.  As Tim Keller has shown clearly in his series of articles about the Davis housing marketplace, Davis exists in a regional marketplace (the Sacramento-Bay Area corridor) that produces a near limitless demand for commuter-oriented housing in Davis.  The Cannery experience gives us hard data that shows that the demographics of the home buyers and apartment renters are overwhelmingly NOT families with children.  Further, prospective buyers fleeing the Bay Area have the financial wherewithal to be able to outbid local families with children for any new housing that is built.

    In his July 9, 2022 article “Where have all the Babies Gone?  Dave Taormino shared the following about families with children.

    In the Cannery, roughly 80% of the buyers had no relationship to Davis or UCD, although some had grown children living here. Most came from the Bay Area and Marin County, exactly where the Cannery developers heavily advertised. It was an intentional strategy not intended to attract local UCD faculty, staff, and other Davis workers. In the 546 homes, an unbelievably low number of school age children actually live there. Something like 26 new students resulted from Cannery’s 546 homes plus apartments. In the 80’s and early 90’s a “Cannery-type neighborhood” would have generated 300 to 400 new students. Where have all the families with or capable of having babies gone?

    .

    It bears repeating, the statements in today’s Vanguard article are a gross oversimplification of the situation Davis faces.

    1. David Greenwald

      I would argue that any relatively short commentary is bound to oversimplify the situation. Your comment and reference to Taormino’s simply illustrates the failure of the city’s policies to meet the needs of the community. That we don’t have a planned/ command economy by the state means that nothing we do will produce a one to one impact. All we can do is lesson some of the restraints.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Your comment and reference to Taormino’s simply illustrates the failure of the city’s policies to meet the needs of the community.

        Taormino is one of the developers involved in the creation of Spring Lake.  Doesn’t it seem rather disingenuous for him to “complain” about developments such as Spring Lake, while also being part of it?

        https://www.davisvanguard.org/2022/07/guest-commentary-where-have-all-the-babies-gone/

        But what are the “needs of the community” in the first place?  (If you bring up declining enrollment, you already know what I’ll say regarding that.)

        1. Ron Oertel

          Here’s some of what he said:

          Sadly, Davis doesn’t get the tax dollars, although we do get the kids, which is a blessing.

          To be clear, this is NOT a blessing for Davis.

          Most of his article is essentially an advertisement for Palomino Place.

          But the basic “problem” (if you want to call it that) is that housing is cheaper in Spring Lake/Woodland.  So if you want that type of growth in Davis (and the clientele it attracts), the prices would have to be equivalent.

          1. David Greenwald

            He’s not complaining about Spring Lake, he’s complaining that housing like that couldn’t have been built in Davis

        2. Ron Oertel

          He’s not complaining about Spring Lake, he’s complaining that housing like that couldn’t have been built in Davis

          It is built in Davis (see The Cannery).  Though with smaller yards.

           

    2. Don Shor

      The Cannery experience gives us hard data that shows that the demographics of the home buyers and apartment renters are overwhelmingly NOT families with children. 

      The Cannery was not designed for families with children.

       

      1. Ron Oertel

        The Cannery was not designed for families with children.

        I visited The Cannery a number of times as it was under construction, and toured the single-family model homes. Many of which are relatively modest, and directly comparable to what they’re building in Spring Lake.

        Who do “you” think all of the single-family housing in that development was intended for?

        1. Ron Oertel

          Older down-sizing home buyers.

          I don’t know why you would think that.

          Those houses are “traditionally-sized” single family houses.  Again, I toured some of them myself. Would have to compare the square footage (from whatever and wherever they came from), in regard to your claim.

          But again, they’re called single “family” houses for a reason. They are specifically designed for “families” – regardless of who ultimately purchases them. Actually, that’s true of all housing – the design doesn’t “ensure” the supposed purpose.

          Now, the “price” might have prevented younger families (moving to the area) from purchasing them.  Those are the folks who bought similarly-sized houses in Spring Lake, along with others who “vacated” Davis.

          I did find the building quality to be slightly-better in The Cannery, compared to Spring Lake.

          What, exactly, do you have in mind regarding housing that would appeal to young families (who are comparing prices with Spring Lake, for example)? (Not to mention pre-existing houses in Davis and Woodland.)

  4. Ron Oertel

    I don’t know why Davis would supposedly “want” to attract young, less-wealthy families in the first place.  These are folks who tend to have a lot of cars, and demand a lot of services.

    Personally, I’d prefer the clientele of those (on average) who occupy The Cannery.  I don’t know the traffic situation there as is (e.g., in regard to the funneled access point), but it would be a lot worse if there were lots of large families living there.

    If the folks in The Cannery did largely come from the Bay Area, I suspect that they’ll also be relatively slow-growth (yet another “bonus”). Personally, I’m counting on them to help sink “Covell Village redux” – especially since it would “wrap-around” The Cannery on the north side – which is also where the “fancier” houses are located. No way are they going to be happy about that.

    In any case, there’s demographic changes occurring across the entire state.  I recently read that the only county with an increasing population of children is Placer county.  (Which makes sense, given how Roseville has developed.) Needless to say, Roseville’s pursuit of growth is totally-unsustainable.
     

     

      1. Ron Oertel

        I recall reading that some of the recent “growth” in Yolo county was due to UCD students “repopulating” the area post-Covid.

        Regardless, this brings up a larger point.

        How is it considered “environmentally-friendly” to pursue sprawl on prime farmland in an area which requires more driving, more energy usage (e.g., air conditioners) than the locales from which most people are moving from (the Bay Area)?

        How does that fit in with supposed “climate goals”, e.g., in light of I-80 freeway expansion to accommodate this development?

        Population has been dropping the fastest in areas where population has the least-negative impacts (e.g., San Francisco).

        And is this what the state intended, regarding its “targets”?

  5. Eileen Samitz

    Regarding the Cannery, I have heard continued concerns that a significant portion of the higher density housing is UCD student occupied, not workers and families. This has created the significant parking problems due to multiple students per unit, with a multiple number of cars.

    1. Richard McCann

      Demand for housing in Davis is not “limitless” which is a misinterpretation of Tim’s casual observation. Overall regional housing demand is large, but not everyone in the region would choose to live in Davis. That demand is constrained by both housing prices in Davis, and relative attractiveness of amenities offered by Davis compared to neighboring cities.

      One of the key amenities, perhaps as much as 50% based on calculations I’ve made, is the quality of the DJUSD system. We can’t use current demand for growth control limited housing to assess the housing demand because those growth controls restrict supply. Restricted supply increases prices when keeping demand constant. Households without children have greater residual wealth which allows them to outbid those with children. That’s how Measure J/R/D is pushing children out of the city. What’s happening anecdotally in the Cannery supports this principle.

      Davis will only remain relatively attractive to buyers relative to Woodland, West Sac, Dixon and Vacaville that share basically all of the same other traits if it maintains its most important distinguishing characteristics–quality schools and the dependence of that quality on the presence of a highly educated workforce. Otherwise they’ll just move to in equal proportions to those other cities, driven by relative price levels.

    2. Ron Oertel

      Demand for housing in Davis is not “limitless” which is a misinterpretation of Tim’s casual observation. Overall regional housing demand is large, but not everyone in the region would choose to live in Davis. That demand is constrained by both housing prices in Davis, and relative attractiveness of amenities offered by Davis compared to neighboring cities.

      Demand is ALWAYS constrained by prices.  That’s how the supply/demand model works in the first place.

      Demand is NOT LIMITED within any given “region”.

      If you sell houses for $1 in Davis, there will be lots MORE “demand”.

      In fact, the market is almost always in “equilibrium”.  The reason being that sellers generally raise prices to match the highest amount they reasonably expect to receive.

      One of the key amenities, perhaps as much as 50% based on calculations I’ve made, is the quality of the DJUSD system.

      As already noted (multiple times, at this point), there’s a “problem” with your 50% calculation.

      But so what, anyway?  Why is the differential “important”? And if you’re going to claim that it’s important, shouldn’t you get it right in the first place? As well as your “preferred” differential, and how you propose to achieve it?

      We can’t use current demand for growth control limited housing to assess the housing demand because those growth controls restrict supply.

      Sure you can.  It’s based upon price, as you noted.

      There was an equivalent price differential BEFORE Measure J was enacted, as well.  Another commenter wrote an article specifically SHOWING YOU THIS, a long time ago.

      Restricted supply increases prices when keeping demand constant.

      Demand is not “kept constant”, and is directly impacted by price (and alternatives).  That’s how supply/demand works.

      And “alternatives” can extend far-beyond the region, just as the region is an “alternative” for those from other regions.

      Households without children have greater residual wealth which allows them to outbid those with children. That’s how Measure J/R/D is pushing children out of the city. What’s happening anecdotally in the Cannery supports this principle.

      And, you WANT poor families to occupy Davis?  Why?

      Where is this policy written – that Davis is setting out to attract more “poor” families, without any connection to Davis? How “fiscally responsible” is this idea, in the first place?

      And for that matter, they can’t afford a $700K Stanley Davis house (of which there are plenty)?

      By the way, there are wealthy families.

      Davis will only remain relatively attractive to buyers relative to Woodland, West Sac, Dixon and Vacaville that share basically all of the same other traits if it maintains its most important distinguishing characteristics–quality schools and the dependence of that quality on the presence of a highly educated workforce. Otherwise they’ll just move to in equal proportions to those other cities, driven by relative price levels.

      They ARE moving there, and enjoying the ability to attend Davis schools.

       

  6. Richard McCann

    Ron O

    First, on campus staff at UCD in Davis now about the same as in the 2010/11–employees dropped from 11,300 to 10,568. Part of that comes from moving the medical school to Sacramento. So UCD has acted to reduce staff needs in Davis. There is no apparent net growth in staff.

    And the export of employees to other cities isn’t UCD’s fault–UCD has kept on campus employment relatively flat. In 2010, 5,349 lived in Davis, now it’s 4,280. Those are households now unable to afford to live in Davis and must commute in. Measure J/R/D has had a directly adverse environmental effect by increasing GHG emissions from UCD commuters.

    The market is speaking about whether there’s a housing crisis. Price is the indicator of relative demand and supply. Housing in the US is now at its lowest level of affordability since 2007–that indicates we have a housing shortage, not anecdotal observations.  That Davis has a 55% average price premium over the neighboring Yolo and Solano cities indicates that the supply is even tighter in this city than elsewhere.

    1. Ron Oertel

      First, on campus staff at UCD in Davis now about the same as in the 2010/11–employees dropped from 11,300 to 10,568. Part of that comes from moving the medical school to Sacramento. So UCD has acted to reduce staff needs in Davis. There is no apparent net growth in staff.

      Good to know.

      And the export of employees to other cities isn’t UCD’s fault–UCD has kept on campus employment relatively flat. In 2010, 5,349 lived in Davis, now it’s 4,280. Those are households now unable to afford to live in Davis and must commute in.

      So, there’s 732 fewer UCD (Davis) employees.  And 1069 who no longer live in Davis.  Which equates to 337 who apparently “left” Davis.

      How would you know if those 337 were “priced out” of Davis, after living there?

      For that matter, how would you know if the medical school employees “moved” to Sacramento, to “match” their place of employment?

      And by the way, Measure J had been in effect for some 10 years, by 2010.

      The market is speaking about whether there’s a housing crisis.  Price is the indicator of relative demand and supply. Housing in the US is now at its lowest level of affordability since 2007–that indicates we have a housing shortage, not anecdotal observations.

      What it indicates is that homeowners “locked in” low rates during and prior to the pandemic, and are now less-willing to move as a result.  This has been widely-reported.  This will change, over time.

      When they measure “affordability” – they’re measuring monthly payments, which are drastically impacted by increased interest rates.

      That Davis has a 55% average price premium over the neighboring Yolo and Solano cities indicates that the supply is even tighter in this city than elsewhere.

      You’ve put forth incorrect claims regarding the differential before, and I’m not going to bother checking your accuracy here.

      But since housing is in fact significantly-cheaper in surrounding communities (including the 37 brand-new houses from one single developer in Woodland), how is this a “crisis”? 

      Again, it’s a very easy commute to UCD from the southern part of Woodland in particular.  (Easier, faster, and less stop-and-go traffic compared to some of the potential peripheral sites outside of Davis’ boundaries.)

       

    2. Richard McCann

      Ron O

      The number of out of town UCD employees increased 6%. By your reasoning more than 100% of employment reduction would have to be from those in-town. Do you have another explanation for why so many left, but commuters in increased? The simplest explanation is rising relative housing costs. No, we’ve driven out about a thousand since 2010. The UCD Travel Survey doesn’t go back to 2000 when Measure J was enacted–the loss is almost certainly worse since then. It’s a cumulative effect that didn’t happen all at once. (I said that UCD moved the medical school jobs out of Davis, not where the employees live.)

      Homeowners avoiding selling due to high rates is a universal situation not unique to Davis. The high housing premium of 55% is unique to Davis. (Measured on Zillow against the average for Woodland, West Sac, Dixon and Vacaville. Matt has seen this calculation.)

      Forcing people to commute into Davis while having many commuters to Sac move here damages the environment in multiple ways, as we’ve witnessed with the climate change induced weather extremes this summer, and unravels the cohesive community.

       

      1. Ron Oertel

        You’re the one who pointed out that the number of UCD (Davis) employees decreased.  Sounds like some housing in Davis should be torn down, as a result.

        How many of these former UCD (Davis) employees are now commuting TO Sacramento? And why aren’t you advocating for them to move, given your concerns?

        By your reasoning more than 100% of employment reduction would have to be from those in-town.

        Where did I say that?

        How many UCD (Davis) employees have “left town”, and where did they go?

        Homeowners avoiding selling due to high rates is a universal situation not unique to Davis. The high housing premium of 55% is unique to Davis. (Measured on Zillow against the average for Woodland, West Sac, Dixon and Vacaville. Matt has seen this calculation.)

        The situation regarding “high rates” will change, over time. I suspect that most homeowners in Davis have already paid off their houses, regardless.

        Again, the differential you cite is not accurate – and yet you keep repeating it. For that matter, you can’t “lump together” all other communities in this manner – as they also have price differentials.

        In fact, price differentials exist WITHIN cities, as well.

        Are you actually claiming that housing prices should be the same (uniform) between all cities, and all neighborhoods throughout the United States? I ask because our “system” does not work that way.

        But again I’d ask (in regard to whatever the differential actually is), “so what”, and how would you “fix it” anyway?

        Put forth some numbers regarding how many more houses would need to be built (to lower housing prices by XX amount), and how it would (then) compare to surrounding communities.  Until you do so, your claims are nothing but hot air.

        Forcing people to commute into Davis while having many commuters to Sac move here damages the environment in multiple ways, as we’ve witnessed with the climate change induced weather extremes this summer, and unravels the cohesive community.

        Sounds like those who had their jobs relocated to Sacramento need to move there.

        But again (as I’ve previously pointed out), it’s an easy commute from southern Woodland (in particular) to UCD.  Easier, less stop-and-go traffic (and therefore more efficient) than from most of the peripheral sites proposed  immediately outside of Davis’ boundaries.

        And if you were actually concerned about this issue, you’d be advocating for the least-impactful “commute” of all (living on campus).

        1. Ron Oertel

          But again (as I’ve previously pointed out), it’s an easy commute from southern Woodland (in particular) to UCD.  Easier, less stop-and-go traffic (and therefore more efficient) than from most of the peripheral sites proposed  immediately outside of Davis’ boundaries.

          This observation is not intended to be “supportive” of sprawl in southern Woodland.  It’s simply a fact.

          But more importantly, there’s nothing that Davis can do about this.  Woodland does, however, a “generous” voter-approved urban limit line (which will nevertheless accommodate 1,600 additional housing units that were “added to” the abandoned innovation center that “moved” from Davis).  That location (in particular) is an easy/fast commute to UCD, as well.

          And beyond that, the city will eventually expand on the west side of town, near the southern border.

          Eventually, they may also expand into the deep-water floodplain southeast of CostCo, along I-5 – assuming they can get Congress and/or the state legislature to saddle taxpayers with the bill.  But it’s probably less-likely that future occupants there would work at UCD.

          Truth be told, Woodland (and every other community in this sprawling region) should be enacting something like Measure J, to discourage folks from abandoning their current, more environmentally-friendly homes in the Bay Area – which is less-reliant on cars, air conditioning, and large water-consuming yards.

          As noted, the state’s population is projected to essentially remain at current levels in future decades.  There’s an article which cites this fact on Davis’ other blog, as well as in the article below:

          (Bloomberg) — More than a century of long-term population growth in California could be over, according to new projections that show the state will have about the same number of people in 2060 as it does now.

           

          https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/california-looks-into-the-future-and-sees-fewer-californians/ar-AA1ecXNl?ocid=hpmsn&cvid=9320a2acb9fd4ba7ae46505c87c902bb&ei=11

          Now, I do realize that YIMBY types aren’t going to “like” this news, despite the fact that it’s going to lead to leveling-off of demand for housing.

          And yet – despite this news, the state is still not doing anything about continued sprawl in the face of a population that’s stabilzing. Again, these are folks who are moving from “environtmentally-friendly” areas, to areas where they have a much more detrimental impact. And Richard – given your “stated” concerns, one would think that you’d be concerned about this.

          1. David Greenwald

            “Now, I do realize that YIMBY types aren’t going to “like” this news, despite the fact that it’s going to lead to leveling-off of demand for housing. ”

            You didn’t read the article very carefully. Nor does it seem you really understand the issue.

        2. Ron Oertel

          I read the article.

          There’s a more thorough analysis regarding the issue – including how it impacts Yolo county – on the other local/Davis blog.

          That’s where I also noted that mainstream media (such as the article I cited) usually reports a stabilization of population as “bad news”.

          It’s certainly “bad news” for K-12 teachers (as noted in the article I cited), and possibly college towns in the future.

          It’s certainly “bad news” for any group or system which depends upon (or prefers) continuous growth – which includes the interests which support YIMBY groups and their politician friends. You can be sure that Scott Wiener, for example, isn’t going to like it. They will continue to be in denial (as they already are regarding cities such as San Francisco, which has experienced a significant drop in population AND housing prices). They’ll be screaming “housing crisis” for a long, long time to come.

          1. David Greenwald

            It’s not “bad news” because it’s not news.

            For example: “The department predicts that there’ll be 39.5 million people in the state by 2060. Just three years ago, forecasters were expecting the number to be 45 million — and a decade ago, the population was seen surging to almost 53 million.”

            So within three years, the projections radically changed. So what makes you think the projection is going to hold 40 years out?

            The article mentions: ” the long-term forecast is “more illustrative than it is predictive,” because it’s hard to project that far ahead.”

            But here’s the other thing you continue to miss over and over again: one of the drivers of the slow down is housing costs, so the projections really don’t change the calculus when housing is actually the driver of those trends.

            In short, what you are arguing doesn’t change anything.

        3. Don Shor

          As noted, the state’s population is projected to essentially remain at current levels in future decades.

           

          Yolo County is expected to increase by the following amounts over the next decades:

          2020-2029       218,184           229,454           = 5%, or 0.5% per year

          2030-2039       230,484           239,628           = 4%, or 0.4% per year

          Good to know that people who are citing this article approvingly as justifying slow-growth policies are obviously willing to see Davis grow by 0.5% each year for a decade, and then by 0.4% each year for the next decade.

          Now I’m just trying to remember when the last time was that Davis grew by 0.4% or 0.5% for any sustained period of time.

          That would add a total of 21,444 new residents in Yolo County, with Davis providing about 30% of that (Davis current share of Yolo County’s population is 31%), or an additional 6,433 residents in Davis by 2039. So at the US average of 2.6 per household, we only need to build 2,474 new homes in the next 20 years including, of course, a fair number that are already in the works. And Davis does have a higher average # per household (3.2 per household if I recall), so if Davis were to do its share of these growth projections we’d actually only need about 2,010 new residential units over the next twenty years.

          So, the next time someone asks how many houses we need, how many people we want to add, wants exact numbers, etc., we can just point to these projections.

          Of course, some might preposterously assert that we don’t need to build houses now, despite these clear projections of regional growth, because in 35+ years the population might level out. Or they might argue that Davis doesn’t need to grow as much as the other cities in Yolo County. In any event, it’s possible the next cycle of RHNA numbers will be lower than expected, which would be good news. The Davis housing market might stabilize a bit in favor (finally) of renters and home buyers.

          Though I’m skeptical of projections that go 30+ years into the future, using these new data we can see that after the next 20 years, things slow down (per their projections) so perhaps by about 2050 Davis prices will not be quite so much higher on a percentage basis than surrounding communities.

          2040-2049       240,261           243,256           = 1.2% or 0.12% per year

           

          Source: https://dof.ca.gov/forecasting/demographics/projections/

          Click on P2A_County_Total

        4. Ron Oertel

          It’s not “bad news” because it’s not news.

          Really?  It’s “not news” that for the first time in California’s history, the population is expected to stabilize (after declining for the past 3 years, as well)?

          For example: “The department predicts that there’ll be 39.5 million people in the state by 2060. Just three years ago, forecasters were expecting the number to be 45 million — and a decade ago, the population was seen surging to almost 53 million.”

          Yes – they “corrected” their projections.

          So within three years, the projections radically changed. So what makes you think the projection is going to hold 40 years out?

          True – the population might decline further, by then.

          But here’s the other thing you continue to miss over and over again: one of the drivers of the slow down is housing costs, so the projections really don’t change the calculus when housing is actually the driver of those trends.

          I didn’t “miss” that at all.

          So what?  Why is that important?  Also, the fact that the population is stabilizing keeps housing prices in check in the first place.

          Are you familiar with “demand”, in regard to the supply/demand model? Seems that you and the rest of the development activists consistently “ignore” that half of the model.

          Another factor (not mentioned in this particular article) is probably the enormous decline in the commercial market.  It’s absolutely collapsing, in places like San Francisco.

          In short, what you are arguing doesn’t change anything.

          I already knew that it wouldn’t change YIMBY minds.  And again, your own response shows that you’re one of those who “aren’t happy” about this news – even though it helps with your claimed “goal”.

          But what will occur is that the state’s housing targets won’t be met, and that the “housing crisis” people will have less-and-less influence.  (Something about a boy repeatedly crying “wolf”.)

           

          1. David Greenwald

            They didn’t correct their projections, they adjusted them. That’s fine. But it’s also an indication that they are very volatile. And the other part of the problem is that the dependent variable is driving the projections.

        5. Ron Oertel

          Here’s the projections for Yolo county:

          Yolo County

          Yolo County’s current estimated population is 223,467 and it is projected to grow to 243,410 in 2060. This represents growth of 19,943 new Yolo County residents or 9% growth over the next 37 years for the county. 

          [edited]

          Don: So, the next time someone asks how many houses we need, how many people we want to add, wants exact numbers, etc., we can just point to these projections.

          Actually, you can’t – as it’s for ALL of Yolo county – including the communities in Yolo county which actively pursue sprawl.

          What does 9% over the next 37 years come to (on an annual basis), anyway? I’m calculating .002.

          And how does that compare with the 5 peripheral proposals proposed outside the boundaries of Davis within the next 10 years? (Of course, we’d have to know what “type” of housing that would consist of, as well.)

          1. Don Shor

            The projections are in my comment along with a link to the state report.
            The growth total for Yolo County for the next 20 years is 9.8%.
            There is no reason that Davis should not do its share of that (approx 30%).
            So I assume you support a housing growth rate in Davis of 0.4% to 0.5% for the next couple of decades. Of course, that includes projects already proposed and approved by the voters.

            And how does that compare with the 5 peripheral proposals proposed outside the boundaries of Davis within the next 10 years?

            You can look up the answers yourself on the city’s website. But it’s not “within the next 10 years”. The rate of building construction would be up to the developers and council to propose, and the voters to approve or reject.

        6. Ron Oertel

          .2% per year, over the next 37 years for all of Yolo county.

          (In other words, 1/10th of 2%.)

          Good news, everyone! (Well, not so much for teachers and possibly college towns – at least for those who prefer continuous growth.)

        7. Ron Oertel

           

          So I assume you support housing growth in Davis of 0.4% to 0.5% for the next couple of decades. Of course, that includes projects already proposed and approved by the voters.

          Again, it’s 1/10th of 2% per year, over the next 37 years. 9% for the entire county.

          https://www.davisite.org/2023/07/population-growth-stall.html

          For all of Yolo county – including the communities which actively pursue sprawl (and have a history of “gladly” doing more than their “share”).

          You can look up the answers yourself on the city’s website.

          I have a feeling that those numbers will indeed be “looked up” as those proposals proceed, and compared to these projections (even though it’s for all of Yolo county).

          But it’s not “within the next 10 years”.

          Then why would they need to be presented “now”?  Since the total is no doubt greater than even the percentage that YOU advocate, shouldn’t they at least be “spread out” (in terms of being presented to voters) over the next few decades?

          For sure, this is not “good news” for everyone – especially for those advocating for these sprawling proposals, or trying to attack Measure J.

          It’s also not “good news” for folks like Scott Wiener and the rest of his YIMBY friends – especially since the state as a whole is not projected to grow at all over the next 37 years. Think about the ramifications of that, for a moment.

          These guys are facing a major problem regarding their message and goals.

          1. Don Shor

            Again, it’s 1/10th of 2% per year, over the next 37 years. 9% for the entire county.

            Again, the growth total for Yolo County for the next 20 years is 9.8%.

            For all of Yolo county – including the communities which actively pursue sprawl (and have a history of “gladly” doing more than their “share”).

            Again, of which the Davis share would be about 30%. There is no reason Davis should not do its share.
            You are grasping at straws, trying to show how a nearly 10% growth rate over 20 years somehow argues for slow-growth policies.
            If the population growth slows, then finally the housing market might stabilize. That would be good: more supply, slowing population growth leading to higher apartment vacancy rates and greater housing inventory for new buyers and renters of homes. A better market for everyone.

        8. Ron Oertel

          Again, the growth total for Yolo County for the next 20 years is 9.8%.

          The article I cited states that it’s 9%.

          [edited]
          But let’s assume (for the sake of argument) that’s it’s 9.8%.  That would be a growth rate of (for the entire county) of just over 1/10th of 2.5 percent per year.

          Does that make you ‘happier”, regarding whatever point you’re trying to make?

          Again, of which the Davis share would be about 30%. There is no reason Davis should not do its share.

          No idea where you’re getting that calculation from.  There are four significant cities (and a bunch of smaller cities) in Yolo county.  All of which pursue sprawl in a more-active manner than Davis.

          And all of which (including Davis) are also pursuing infill – which hasn’t even entered into the discussion so far. Truth be told, you could fit the entire city of Davis “within” the boundaries of Woodland, without batting an eye. (Not all in one place, of course.)

          There’s also planned housing on campus, which I believe is “in” Yolo county – which also hasn’t entered into the discussion.

          You are grasping at straws, trying to show how a nearly 10% growth rate over 20 years somehow argues for slow-growth policies.

          Now we’re up to 10% over 20 years?  Again, the source I’ve cited states 9% over 37 years – for the entire county.

          If the population growth slows, then finally the housing market might stabilize.

          There’s no such thing as “stabilization” regarding the price of ANYTHING.  But the market usually ensures that prices reflect demand. A component of demand (that the YIMBY types don’t like to discuss) is “alternatives”.

          I would argue that pursuit of even a 9% growth rate in Yolo county (while the rest of the state is not growing at all) over the next 37 years is not good policy.

          It’s not environmentally-sound to encourage “shifting” of existing population (e.g., from coastal locales where public transportation is adequate, air conditioning isn’t required, and yards are small) to Yolo county, where none of those things is true.  (While simultaneously destroying the actual asset that places like Yolo county offer to the state and beyond – prime farmland.)

          But for sure, Scott Wiener isn’t going to be sleeping soundly, anymore (in light of this projection).  I’m thinking that the Department of Finance (which created this projection) isn’t yet under the control of the YIMBYs. If I was Scott Wiener (or Newsom), I’d see what can be “done” about that.

           

           

           

          1. Don Shor

            Okay, let’s try this one more time.

          2. Yolo County population 2020: 218,184
          3. Yolo County projected population 2039: 239,628
          4. Divide 239,628 by 218,184 and you get 1.098. That is a 9.8% population increase projected for Yolo County between 2020 and 2039.
          5. 9.8% divided by 20 years is a 0.49% increase per year from 2020 to 2039.
          6. The data actually has the faster growth in the period now, at 5% during 2020 – 2029, and 4% during 2030 – 2039.
            Davis population of 66,850 in 2020, divided by Yolo County population of 216,403 in 2020, is 30.89%.
            Feel free to argue against new housing in Davis, but don’t pretend these numbers provide any reasonable basis for that argument.

        9. Ron Oertel

          The article I cited states that it’s 9%.
          But let’s assume (for the sake of argument) that’s it’s 9.8%.  That would be a growth rate of (for the entire county) of just over 1/10th of 2.5 percent per year.

          (Forgot to note that this is over 37 years – which is apparently what the report addressed – until the year 2060.)

          Essentially no growth at all for the state as a whole, over that period.

          This has got to be making a lot of people very “unhappy” (e.g., the construction industry, various business interests, the real estate industry, school districts, etc.).  In other words, the usual interests out to destroy the state – and not just the YIMBYs and YIMBY politicians which comprise their “public” face.

          Apparently, even their lobbyists aren’t able to spin or influence this, so far. But given the amount of money ultimately at risk, I’m sure they’re “working on it”.

          Again, I’d probably try to fire everyone at the state Finance office (if I was a YIMBY), for coming up with this projection. Just shut it down entirely, until they get that “situation” under control. It can’t be THAT hard, for those folks to accomplish. (This is a major political “oversight” – to allow that “loose cannon” to spout off.)

        10. Ron Oertel

          Okay, let’s try this one more time.

          Don, I already recalculated the percentage of growth using your numbers – without even verifying the source.  I’ll take your word for it, for now.

          Using your numbers, it’s 1/10th of 2.5 percent per year, over the next 37 years – for the entire county.

          Davis population of 66,850 in 2020, divided by Yolo County population of 216,403 in 2020, is 30.89%.

          Interesting – it sounds like Davis has already been accommodating more than its “share” of the county’s recent growth.  (I’ll assume that your total for the county includes housing on campus.)

          Feel free to argue against new housing in Davis, but don’t pretend these numbers provide any reasonable basis for that argument.

          If you’re arguing that Davis should accommodate 1/10th of 2.5 percent per year of its current population (and can also put forth numbers regarding how much of that would be “infill” or accommodated on campus), then at least you’ll have “something” to point to, using your own arguments.

          And then, compare that result to the sprawl that Davis voters will be asked to approve within the next 5-10 years.

          But again, I’d also argue that even a 9 (or 9.8%) total growth rate over the next 37 years in a state that isn’t growing is not an environmentally-preferable goal.  This is mostly a “shifting” of population from “environmentally-friendly” areas (which don’t require cars, air conditioning, or large yards) to a locale (Yolo county) which has none of those attributes.  While destroying the one attribute that it DOES have – prime farmland.

          So in that sense, yes – I am arguing against even a “pursuit” of the 9% (or 9.8%) for the entire county over the next 37 years.  Unless it’s infill, in which case my observations in the paragraph above may not apply.

           

        11. Ron Oertel

          Don, I already recalculated the percentage of growth using your numbers – without even verifying the source.  I’ll take your word for it, for now.

          Actually, I just noticed that it’s not accurate to use your numbers, in regard to the date of the entire projection period.  (I already knew that you were “cherry-picking” the years you “like”, but I didn’t notice the date of the comparison in projected population that you’re using.

          In any case, Yolo county’s current population is approximately 223,467, and is expected to increase to 243,410 by 2060.  An increase of 19,943 residents over the next 37 years.

          This is just under a 9% increase for Yolo county, over the next 37 year period.  As such, it’s less than 1/4% per year.

          Using your “30% share of Yolo county’s population” for Davis, this means that less than 6,000 residents would be added under this scenario over the next 37 years.

          Again, keep in mind that a lot of this will be accommodated by infill or via housing on campus.

          1. Don Shor

            One more time:
            Yolo County is expected to increase by the following amounts over the next decades:
            2020-2029 218,184 229,454 = 5%, or 0.5% per year
            2030-2039 230,484 239,628 = 4%, or 0.4% per year

            That would add a total of 21,444 new residents in Yolo County, with Davis providing about 30% of that (Davis current share of Yolo County’s population is 31%), or an additional 6,433 residents in Davis by 2039.
            In the next twenty years Davis would grow by about 6433 residents.
            Then population growth is expected to slow.

            Actually, I just noticed that it’s not accurate to use your numbers, in regard to the date of the entire projection period.

            I’m not cherry-picking. Growth in Yolo County, and thus presumably in Davis, is projected to be about 0.5% per year for the next decade, then about 0.4% per year for the decade after that.
            Are you saying that the next twenty years doesn’t matter with respect to housing here because 20+ years down the road the population growth rate will slow down? That the current lack of inventory, the current very low vacancy rates, are acceptable for another two decades — basically another whole generation — because after that the population growth rate will probably slow? That Davis doesn’t need to do its share of regional growth?
            In my opinion, given the shortfall in housing starts in Davis compared to the region over the last twenty years, we have some catching up to do. Then we have another couple of decades of growth to accommodate. After that it’s possible housing growth won’t be needed, assuming their projections are accurate with respect to immigration in California. But even if that’s the case, the currently distorted housing market has created very low vacancy rates, very low inventory of housing across all categories, and is causing real harm now to many people who live and work in this area.

        12. Ron Oertel

          I’m not cherry-picking.

          When you only look at the years that you’d prefer to look at (rather than the entire projection period), you are indeed “cherry-picking”.

          The projection is through 2060. I didn’t “make up” that ending date, nor did I try to “limit the period” as you did. The population of the county is projected to increase less than 9% by the end of the period in 2060. Per your 30% calculation, this is an increase of less than 6,000 Davis residents by 2060.

          Are you saying that the next twenty years doesn’t matter with respect to housing here because 20+ years down the road the population growth rate will slow down?

          I’m saying that you can’t separate-out just the years you want to look at, assign them to a specific city (without any support), and assume that you can “time” the construction of housing “by year” in the first place.

          And it’s not just that it would “slow down”.  If you look at the article I referenced, you’ll see that it may go “negative”.

          Again, the growth rate projected over the next 37 years is less than 1/4% per year.

          This is just a simple fact – it’s not open to “debate” regarding your (or my) “opinion”.

          And again, a lot of the 1/4% growth per year will be accommodated by infill or on campus. The projections might have already accounted for that, as well.

          And again – I don’t think it’s a good idea to encourage even THAT amount of growth, since it’s coming from areas where residents live in a less-environmentally damaging manner.

        13. Ron Oertel

          And again – I don’t think it’s a good idea to encourage even THAT amount of growth, since it’s coming from areas where residents live in a less-environmentally damaging manner.

          Ran out of time, adding to this comment.  So to expand upon it again, these are generally folks moving from the Bay Area, where public transportation is relatively-robust, the climate does not require air conditioning, and yards are relatively small – requiring less water.

          Yolo county has none of those attributes.  The one attribute it DOES have is the one that would be destroyed by purposefully-accommodating Bay Area residents on prime farmland.

          It’s really pretty simple.

        14. Tim Keller

          Don, these growth projections are great, I think they can be used to validate some of the assumptions in my model.

          Does anyone you know why they are projecting decreasing growth rate?  declining birth rates??  People leaving the state / retiring someplace cheaper because housing is too expensive?

          That said, nobody should be looking at a .5% growth rate and then simply say, “thats how much we should grow”… it doesn’t work like that.

          The real growth target needs to be based on actual demand drivers which includes an sizable existing housing backlog, future growth of the university ( which is likely linked to population growth) and the extent to which we want to add baseline industry jobs in our city… if we ever get around to the idea of economic development again…

          If we decide to build car-centric housing that is attractive to commuters, then all that math gets blown out the window because the regional demand and regional housing backlog is just so much larger…

          1. David Greenwald

            Mostly more people are leaving and less people are entering the state DUE TO HIGH HOUSING COSTS. Poll after poll shows that’s the number one reason by far for people leaving. So this idea that Ron is pushing that we don’t need housing because of declining population exactly ignores that that is the proximate cause of the decline.

        15. Walter Shwe

          Mostly more people are leaving and less people are entering the state DUE TO HIGH HOUSING COSTS. Poll after poll shows that’s the number one reason by far for people leaving. So this idea that Ron is pushing that we don’t need housing because of declining population exactly ignores that that is the proximate cause of the decline.

          This is yet another instance where David is correct and Ron is wrong. Circular thinking by NIMBYs is sometimes utilized to justify their zero housing zealotcy.

        16. Ron Oertel

          Mostly more people are leaving and less people are entering the state DUE TO HIGH HOUSING COSTS. Poll after poll shows that’s the number one reason by far for people leaving. So this idea that Ron is pushing that we don’t need housing because of declining population exactly ignores that that is the proximate cause of the decline.

          The data shows that there is more than one “cause” for the leveling-off of population, including fewer births, more deaths (e.g., during Covid), less immigration.

          “Reasons” for folks to leave include taxes (which can be avoided in other states), better business/work opportunities, politics, and yes – lower housing costs elsewhere.

          In fact, the latter is the primary “reason” that folks move to the Sacramento region (including Davis) from places like the Bay Area in the first place.

          Why is “seeking out” better opportunities a “problem” in your view? I would “agree” that it’s a problem that folks get priced-out of their home towns (as I did, and probably half the people in Davis did), due to the pursuit of unbridled economic development. (YIMBYs never want to look at the “cause” of demand.)

          This is yet another instance where David is correct and Ron is wrong.

          If you’re going to state I’m “wrong”, show me “where” I’m wrong.

          Circular thinking by NIMBYs is sometimes utilized to justify their zero housing zealotcy.

          You clearly don’t even understand the definition of that derogatory term.

           

        17. Walter Shwe

          NIMBY is no more derogatory than YIMBY. Ron Oertel has repeatedly used YIMBY. Ron definitely has no idea what he’s talking about. The evidence clearly shows this fact. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

  7. Matt Williams

    I’d like to attempt to bring the topic of discussion back to UCD.

    One of the interesting dynamics that the UCD-City-County MOU created was UCD’s focusing on students being housed, since that was the metric of the MOU.  To accomplish a speedy increase in students being housed, instead of building new units in order to house those additional students, UCD (and its subcontractor rental housing management companies) converted existing single occupancy units (or bedrooms) into double occupancy.  To increase the number of students housed, that was/is a good strategy.

    However, when one scratches below the surface of how that strategy was implemented, instead of the rent of each of the double occupancy residents being half of the single occupancy rent, the rent for each was considerably higher.

    What does that mean in for “housing affordability”?  It means that housing on campus didn’t get any more affordable , it simply got more cramped.  In fairness, the absolute dollarse that each student in a double had to spend was a bit less than what the previous rent for the same unit as a single was, but the value received (square feet per dollar spent) was considerably less.

    To put the above into context, it would be useful to know (A) the actual “units added” figure for on-campus housing since the MOU base year, (B) the number of added beds and units that meet the HCD/RHNA “affordability” standards, and (C) the total number of beds and units campus-wide that meet the HCD/RHNA “affordability” standards.

    1. David Greenwald

      You raise the point about double-occupancy, even in the private sector, double-occupancy doesn’t mean you cut the cost of a room in half, it means you reduce by it seems like about 20 percent. I don’t know if there is a justification for it or it becomes another way to make additional revenue. Or both.

  8. Tim Keller

    I take a different perpsective on this issue than most of the people who have commented thus far:

    I see the differential in students and locals workers / staff  as an OPPORTUNITY for the city*

    (The asterisk is there because this is ONLY true if we can build housing which is economically net-positive in the long term.. ie:  Medium density housing, and vertical mixed use)

    Recall the fact that as demonstrated by Strong Towns, single family suburban houses lose monty long term for the city, and higher density areas MAKE money for the city, in fact subsidizing the suburbs as explained well in  this video:

    We have a LOT of single family surburbia to subsidize… and a waiting pool of residents who would LOVE a chance to live in moderate density / semi-urban parts of town…   How do we not see that as an economic opportunity?

    I think the city should be trying to pave a path for student property owners in downtown and arterial areas, to replace their 1960’s era 2-story student housing complexes with 4-5 story vertical mixed use structures… I would rather we do THAT then try to push all the students onto campus… its just better for us economically.

    1. Matt Williams

      Tim, conceptually I agree with you, but the devil is in the details. I may be wrong, but what you appear to be saying is that the additional students also represent additional consumers.  Is that correct?

      If it is correct, then looking at the robustness of those students as consumers is a useful endeavor.  According to several data sources, on average:

      39% of the average student’s annual expenditures go to Tuition & Fees

      42% goes to Room & Board

      5% goes to Books & Supplies

      5% goes to Transportation

      9% goes to all Other Purchases (clothes, electronics, entertainment, etc.)

      Of those categories the City gets almost no Revenue from Tuition & Fees, Room,  Books & Supplies (assuming purchases are from either the Campus Book Store or Amazon, etc), Transportation.  So Board (food) and Other are the only Revenue producers for the City.  Sales tax on meals and groceries and Sales tax on retail purchases made in the City essentially represent the only Revenue categories from a student’s annual budget.  According to UC Berkeley the average student living in an off campus apartment spends $5,582 per year on food.  If those amounts are 100% taxable and all spent within the City, that amounts to $111.64 per student in sales tax for the year.  Given our anemic retail economy in Davis, the $10,054 per year spent on Other ($5,582 times 9% and divided by 5%) may produce another $111.64 in sales tax revenue (but probably considerably less).

      That brings us to the following question, “Is $223 of annual revenue per student enough to pay for the services costs the City incurs as a result of that student living in Davis?

      1. Tim Keller

        Thats an interesting and complex question….

        1) We are missing a property tax input into your math here:   The strong towns analysis has shown that higher densigy housing is net-positive for the city economically and single family is net negative… just HOW net positive is something we should understand.

        2) With regards to marginal cost of services, that is going to be complicated.   I dont know how students would be “consumers” of city services other than the mutual non-excludable services of road maintenance, police and fire protection etc….   I doubt those services get higher for the city on a per-capita basis, it is more likely that the cost goes up when those services have to cover a greater AREA…

        For example… it is going to be much more cost effective to run electrical water and sewer utilities to a single block of apartments housing 200 people because you have less road and pipe to install… Same with police and fire protection….   We generally only have to add a fire station or police coverage when response times are long.. it takes a long time to GET THERE…

        So that is another argument in favor of density… but it also makes any math that states per capita “consumption” of city services pretty difficult, but its a fair bet to say that the marginal resident living in denser housing that is above whatever threshold it takes for the property tax revenue to be net positive is also going to be net positive.

        But as you say.. .the devil is in the details, and that is why I put a big asterisk on my initial statement…  we really should study and understand these variables and get a feeling for exactly what kind of density and development pattern IS net positive for the city.    Im not in favor of building any housing that is a money loser.   Those times have to be behind us.

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