By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – As they say, people in glass houses are probably not the ones to be throwing stones. While I agree that UC Davis should be building more housing, the residents of the city of Davis at least share some of the blame for the student housing crisis.
One commenter noted yesterday, “UC Berkeley is trying to provide at least 50% student housing and 25% graduate student housing.”
But as we know, Berkeley is facing a lot of the same problems that Davis is facing. Berkeley of course has been thwarted in attempting to build student housing by CEQA suits.
The commenter however charges, “In contrast, UCD isn’t even trying to provide at least 50% student housing like all the other UCs. Yet, UCD has 5,300 acres and a 900-acre core campus, the largest UC in the system. UCD’s continued under-performance compared to the other UCs is simply inexcusable.”
UC Davis of course can go further, but one has to wonder where things might be had UC Davis been able to simply build West Village out rather than deal with the absurd lawsuits that delayed construction by years and also made it much more difficult to build faculty and staff housing, because they had no Russell Blvd. access.
That citizen action not only delayed critical housing construction for years, but also helped to permanently poison city-university relations.
More recently, the student housing crisis has not been helped by the 2016 defeat of Nishi at the polls and the subsequent difficulties of having a university-only accessed project that has delayed construction now for almost five years.
On top of that, neighbors forced critical compromise that took housing off the table for University Commons, and those were two student housing projects literally next to campus. Neither has been built.
It’s easy to say that the university can and should do more—but the citizens of Davis are actually part of the problem overall here.
The Sacramento Bee reported this weekend among other sales in Davis… six sales in Davis over the last week. The cost is a problem, but the fact that only six sales occurred which prorates to less than 30 sales per month is probably even more so.
Four of the six sales were condos. The two most expensive were $586 and $609 per square foot. The $609 one was sold for just under $600,000 which puts it below average and median. But it was just 970 square feet.
Meanwhile, a 1469-square-foot condo sold for $855K and two homes that were just under 2000 square feet sold for $940K and $1 million.
A survey of some of articles and social media across the state demonstrates the housing problem extends well beyond the city of Davis.
Orange County Register notes: “Goodbye starter home: First-time buyers struggle with Southern California prices, lack of inventory.”
Key point: “For generations, the leap from renter to homeowner begins with a starter home — a small two- or three-bedroom house, a townhome or a condo. Then, as families build equity, advance in their careers and have kids, they move up to the bigger house in the suburbs, often with better schools.
“But after a decade of bidding wars and relentlessly rising home prices, that entry-level ticket to the American dream is looking more like a Tiffany-wrapped jewel, out of reach for all but well-paid professionals or young adults getting down-payment help from their families.
“The median price for starter homes has doubled and even tripled in Southern California and the Bay Area since 2012, according to a recent study by the brokerage Redfin. The minimum annual income needed to afford an entry-level home was as high as $160,000 to $245,000 a year.”
The kicker: “Even in the Inland Empire — Southern California’s most affordable housing market — buyers need a six-figure income to afford a starter home.”
Think about that one.
This is basically a supply problem.
On Friday, Jordan Crimes tweeted, “I’m spending my Friday night in the affluent Bay Area suburb of Millbrae, where the county is presenting a plan to turn a hotel into ~100 homes for unhoused residents. It appears that the entire city is here, and they are *pissed*.”
Grimes notes, “Some background on Millbrae: it’s home to SFO, and has, like many cities in San Mateo County, a very high median household income ($141k/year, specifically). Also like many other cities in San Mateo County, they’ve built very little housing in the last decade.”
It all comes back to resistance. Put the housing somewhere other than here. I think we have a word for that. It begins with an “n” and some people find it pejorative. I find it descriptive.