My View: City Housing Element Update Illustrates Housing Crisis

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – The city of Davis will have an item which shows the Housing Element Annual Progress Report.

I may have a more in-depth analysis later, but there are two charts that in my view illustrate a point I have been making for some time.

There are those who have argued that Davis has plenty of unaffordable homes, that what Davis needs are more affordable housing options.  Let me be clear, I completely agree with the second part of that statement.  Davis definitely needs more in the way of “affordable” housing options—both subsidized and market rate.

Look no further than the example I gave a few days ago of the $600,000 home that garnered 32 offers and sold in cash almost immediately.  Yes, there’s a huge demand for reasonably priced housing.

But the reality is that there is not enough housing in Davis—period.  That’s illustrated by the fact that market rate homes, even those in the $900,000 to $1 million range, are typically on the market less than a week.  And there are typically only about 30 to 60 that even hit the market in a given month.

Here’s a good illustration of why:

As the chart shows, we’re just not adding single-family homes in Davis.  Last year, we added one.  Really, other than the nice amount of housing from the Cannery in 2015 to 2017, there hasn’t been much added in Davis in the last 15 years.

A total of 703 single-family units has been added over that time.  More than half of that during the 2015-2017 cycle.

In the last six years, just over 100 single-family units have been added.

As this shows, that’s not what was planned.  We can argue that we didn’t plan enough housing.  But in the previous Housing Element, the goal was 40 to 60 percent single-family housing and we got just 27 percent.

Moreover, we haven’t even added multi-family ownership housing either.  We were supposed to add 10 to 25 percent multi-family ownership and we actually added six percent.

In short, two-thirds of the housing we have added in the last 15 years has been multi-family rental.  The goal was more like one-third (30 to 40 percent).

A lot of that is student housing which we desperately needed—and continue to need.  But the lack of ownership housing is rather glaring and really only going to get worse.

Currently, the only housing project with single-family homes that is likely to be approved at this point without a vote is the relatively small Palomino Place.  Everything else is going to have to get through a Measure J vote, and who knows if it will get approved.

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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  1. Ron Glick

    Once again you make the case  that Measure J has broken the Davis housing market for most families without equity or intergenerational wealth. Once again, including the other day,  you have consistently supported Measure J despite the mountain of evidence supporting its negative effects. Whenever you write about the inequities and failures of the Davis housing market you should take a good look in the mirror before you start to write.

  2. Matt Williams

    David, are you conveniently forgetting either the Climate Crisis or the City of Davis Climate Action Plan?

    The second table you included was created in 2011.  It reflects none of the intervening global warming mitigation initiatives that the City has passed and our society has embraced.

    Creating that table with our much more socially responsible values would have the percentages of Single Family Detached and Attached Units (the Missing Middle) as 10% to 20%, Multi-family Ownership Units 30% to 40% and  Multi-family rental units as 40% to 60%  (10+30+60 =100 and 20+40+40=100)

    As long as the City has no plan for adding jobs to the local economy that will support the purchasers of the new ownership homes both li=ving and working in Davis, then going above 10% is environmentally irresponsible.

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