- Our concerns regarding the lack of UCD on-campus housing and its growing impacts on Davis
Citizens for Responsible Planning is a citizens group focused on good planning in Davis, supporting our citizen-based General Plan, and greatly concerned about the impacts from almost three decades of UC Davis’ negligent failure to provide the on-campus student housing promised since the 1989 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement between the City of Davis and UCD. In that MOU, UCD agreed to provide ample on-campus housing to prevent shifting UCD housing needs onto our community. The agreement specified that UCD would provide on-campus housing for 25% of its student population and that it would add on-campus housing for 35% of the annual enrollment growth. UCD has over 5,300 acres and has the largest UC campus in acreage in the UC system, yet it has inexcusably provided the least amount of on-campus student housing.
Historically, promises made by UCD to provide on-campus housing commensurate with enrollment growth have not been met over the years since the MOU was entered into with good faith by the City. As a result, more and more UCD student housing needs have been forced onto our City. The consequences are that cumulatively more of our rental housing has been occupied by UCD students, while more of our workforce and families are pushed out of our City’s own rental housing. UCD’s negligence in failing to build on-campus housing in pace with enrollment growth is unfair to UCD’s students and unfair to our community. Other California universities are providing for the housing needs for their students. UCD needs to step up as they have.
To make matters worse UCD is now arranging “master leases” to reserve rental housing in Davis apartment complexes for students, making these apartments unavailable to non-students. UCD has played a manipulative game for years of complaining that our community has a low rental housing vacancy rate, while it is the university that in fact bears the most responsibility for that low vacancy rate due to its long-term gross neglect of its housing responsibilities.
- Our City’s General Plan update policies brought attention to the UCD on-campus housing deficiency with additional policies in 2008
The lack of on-campus housing was noticed particularly in the past decade due to the emergence of “mini-dorms” and the traffic, parking and noise problems that were developing in Davis neighborhoods. Mini-dorm generally refers to a single-family residence with more than 5-bedrooms used for student housing.
The 2008 General Plan Update Housing Element Steering Committee (HESC) addressed this issue with specific policies calling for action by UCD to address the growing deficiency of on-campus housing that was a growing problem. These are some pertinent excerpts:
2008 Davis General Plan Update Housing Element Steering Committee recommendations:
The 2008 General Plan Update Housing Element Steering Committee unanimously approved language for the city to address this issue, which was adopted by City Council in 2011:
“Prepare a joint housing strategy, Memorandum of Understanding or similar document in cooperation with UCD. Encourage UCD to increase the planned student housing to meet the UC systemwide average of 38 percent of enrollment at a minimum (of its total student population).”
Additional language later adopted by City Council:
“Makes all efforts to provide the UC systemwide goal of 42 percent student housing. The housing should consist primarily of core-campus, high-density student apartments that are able to accommodate individual and family student-households for the average term of student population at UC Davis.”
The committee defined the reasons for these recommendations:
“Substantially more core-campus, high-density student apartments are needed to provide permanent affordable housing for the entire average student term, as compared with dorms which only provide one year of housing for freshmen.
“The reasons for high-density apartment housing on campus include:
1) It can be legally dedicated to UC Davis students (Note: as opposed to housing for students in the city).
2) It can better absorb fluctuations in the number of student admissions.
3) It would provide significant reductions in transportation and parking issues created by the commuting of thousands of students.
4) It can be accommodated on campus as UC Davis is the largest UC campus with over 5,000 acres, and has had a goal of providing 40 percent student housing from 2001, yet has not provided more than 23 percent student housing.
5) Davis is a relatively small city and should not be expected to house a disproportionately large number of students for a city its size.”
III. UC Systemwide knew about their impending increase for on-campus housing needs since 2002, yet did not take action
Meanwhile, in 2002 the UC Regents appointed a task force to analyze systemwide student housing needs and goals that were to be met at each campus by 2012. The “UC Housing for the 21st Century” report made clear that UC Davis was to provide 38% of its on-campus student housing by 2012 with a goal of 40%. In addition, the on-campus housing goal systemwide was to be 42% by 2012 for all campuses. Yet none of this materialized. Why? Because UCD chose to defer its housing needs, as it is attempting to continue doing. The situation has intensified, however, because UCD is ambitiously admitting an “avalanche” of additional students. Instead of doing proper planning, UCD has continued to drag its heels in providing the student housing needed for its own growth. This is negatively impacting our community and proper City planning. This opportunistic situation imposed by UCD on our city needs to stop now. It is time for UCD to step up to provide the on-campus housing needed to match the growth it has generated. In addition, Davis citizens need to understand the impacts and financial consequences of UCD’s continued displacement of its housing needs onto our community.
The” UC Housing for the 21st Century” task force report clearly acknowledged the need for the UC system to address this housing problem; here are some excerpts:
Pertinent Excerpts from UC Housing for the 21st Century, November 2002
- “Housing that is built to meet student, faculty, or staff housing needs also alleviates the need to provide housing in the community for these same groups. In other words, adding housing in support of the educational mission of UC also adds to the state’s housing stock” (Executive Summary, p. 2).
- “Added demand for housing in communities surrounding UC campuses results in rising rental and home prices. Where University-affiliated housing is in short supply, the only choice for students, faculty and staff is to compete in these nearby markets or make decisions to live considerable distances from the campus” (Exec. Sum. p. 2).
- “…the construction and financing costs of hew housing will need to be integrated into total campus growth plans in such a way as to ensure that each campus has assessed all needs and developed a coherent strategy to satisfy the multiple demands being faced by the University” (p. 10). [UCD has not done this.]
So UC Systemwide and UCD knew as far back as 2002 they needed to build significantly more on-campus housing for their own growth, yet they did not take action
- Costs to our community due to UCD’s negligence to build promised on-campus housing for its own growth
It is important to understand that the massive number of apartments UCD is trying to convince our community to build for their students amounts to a subsidy that comes from our taxes. Apartment complexes impose costs to the City for water supply, wastewater treatment and other City services. Our infrastructure expansions such as our wastewater treatment plant and our new water supply project are being paid for by Davis taxpayers, and are intended to have the capacities needed to serve our city and its future growth, not the infrastructure needs of UCD’s continued rapid expansion. This is why it is critical that student housing is built on campus so that UCD’s own water, waste water treatment and other services (police, fire, etc.) are paid for by UCD, not our community.
UCD’s 2020 Initiative plan for accelerated student population growth
- Impacts on our community from UCD wanting to add 4,500 international and out-of-state students by 2020 for revenue
UCD is accepting significantly more students annually, particularly 4,500 international and out-of-state students by 2020, but it has not done nearly enough to match construction of new on-campus housing to enrollment growth. Other campuses such as UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UC Riverside, UC Merced, and CSU Cal Poly San Luis Obispo have provided and are planning to provide more on-campus student housing, so why not UCD? Why is UCD so far behind in responsible and sustainable planning, particularly since it has over 5,300 acres?
The consequences of UCD’s failure to provide sufficient on-campus housing have caused major impacts on our community, including significantly increased car and bicycle traffic, lack of parking, and the emergence of more and more neighborhood mini-dorms. Plus, the availability of housing for local families and workforce has diminished because multiple students can pool their finances to pay higher rents.
Again, UCD’s irresponsibility and inaction in failing to provide the needed and promised on-campus housing is unfair to the UCD students and to our community, because we are suffering the consequences while UCD delays taking action.
- UCD’s Overly Ambitious “2020 Initiative for a UCD Campus for the 21st Century” Growth Plan Has Worsened the Shortage of Student Housing
In 2011, former UCD Chancellor Linda Katehi announced her ambitious “2020 UCD Campus for the 21st Century” plan at the UCD Fall Convocation address. The goal of the initiative was to significantly increase the UCD student population on an accelerated timeline and recruiting far more non-resident students for the higher tuition revenue they are required to pay UCD.
At that time the Chancellor apparently advocated that out of 5,000 new undergrad students, 3,000 should be non-residents and only 2,000 should be California residents. It was obvious that the intention was to try to increase UCD’s revenue by exacting the more than triple tuition charged for non-resident students. In addition to the influx of 5,000 additional undergrads, the 2020 Initiative planned to attract “significantly more graduate student enrollment.” But, there was no adequate plan by UCD leadership to provide significantly more on-campus apartments for this enormous 5,000+ increase in the UCD student population by 2020 for the four or more years they would attend UCD. This lack of planning for a commensurate increase in on-campus student housing implies that UCD expected that the City of Davis would accommodate this dramatic upsurge in students.
While UCD apparently started increasing the number of non-resident students in 2011, a UCD 2020 Initiative Task Force was formed that November to address the details of the plan for implementation if it was considered feasible. The task force responded formally in November 2012 in a report identifying many issues including the financing of substantially more faculty, staff, facilities and services that would need if the 2020 Initiative was to be successful. The administration then announced in March 2013 that UCD would move forward with the initiative with a joint report which was covered in the media:
One of the Task Force conclusions reached was rejecting Katehi’s originally proposed ratio of the 2,000 California resident students to 3,000 non-resident students being recruited for the proposed addition of 5,000 students by 2020 because it would gain $6 million in revenue, which was not considered sufficient.
Five ratio scenarios were discussed, but ultimately the UCD task force decided that the ratio scenario to pursue would be 4,500 non-resident students and only 500 additional students would be California resident students with the goal of $38 million in revenue. However, there would also be significant costs that would be coming with this aggressive UCD 2020 Initiative concept.
The UCD 2020 Initiative Task force made it clear concerns that this ambitious plan to yield more revenue from non-resident students would require more staffing, such as for the Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS) and English as a second language (ESL) classes. As some may have noticed, a new International Student Center was built on-campus this past year as well. In addition to replacing an expected retirement of 350 faculty within six years, an additional 300 faculty (totaling 650) would be needed as well as at least 400 – 600 non-faculty staff plus more facilities including offices, classrooms, and research space to accommodate the proposed massive influx of new students. Yet, before all of this infrastructure was in place, the upsurge of resident and non-resident student enrollment began by 2011 without a commensurate increase in on-campus housing to accommodate the new students for the 4-5 years they would attend UCD.
It is interesting that as the above 2013 Davis Enterprise article covers, then Mayor Joe Krovosa stated that UCD was “keeping the City informed” so that the City would be apprised of the growth impacts”. Yet, none of that seemed to have materialized or resulted in any action by UCD to expedite the building of on-campus housing for the influx of so many more students. In fact, quite the contrary, UCD closed the Orchard Park apartment complex on-campus in 2014, thereby significantly reducing the amount of 4-year housing available for students on-campus, and it still remains closed awaiting a redevelopment plan. The loss of this 4-year apartment housing had a huge impact on UCD students as well as our community because it displaced all of its residents. Furthermore, the rents from these 200 apartments were a significant loss to UCD revenue as well. A far higher density project of more than 4 stories with far more apartments is needed at Orchard Park, and soon. UCD did some renovation and expansion of on-campus dorms, but that just allowed UCD to secure new students as freshmen to live on campus for only one year, after which the students are forced off campus to find housing elsewhere, thereby impacting our city and neighboring cities.
Furthermore, UCD apparently did not keep the City informed on how they intended to address housing this massive number of additional UCD students. However, at a City Council meeting in the fall of 2015, UCD announced that it was launching an update to its Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) and invited public input. UCD’s head of campus planning, Bob Segar, further stated that the university would be unable to house all of the new students that would be enrolled in fall 2016. This revelation leads to the obvious question of where UCD expects all the new students to live in the absence of adequate on-campus housing. Is it UCD’s expectation that its own failure to plan and construct on-campus housing for thousands of students, should now become our City’s problem? This situation was entirely avoidable had UCD been more responsible, as they had promised in the City of Davis-UCD MOU. The result of UCD’s inaction is a multitude of impacts that are now being passed onto UCD students and to our community.
VII. Other consequences of UCD’s 2020 Initiative, UCD has the highest cheating rate nationwide in recent report
Over the past year several articles in the media have covered an emerging consequence of the significant rise in international students being recruited, often using lower standards for the universities to reap the higher tuitions nationwide. The recent Sept. 8th Davis Enterprise covered a story that UCD was needing to address the growing problem of increased cheating reported at an alarming rate. This issue was particularly amongst international students involving Chinese students most often.
The Wall Street Journal did a comprehensive report this past June collecting data from 50 universities nationwide with high foreign student enrollment which included UCD, and apparently the UCD campus had the highest rate of cheating reported which primarily involved foreign students.
It is clear that recruitment of these international students trying to learn in a different language, in a very different culture, and so far from home is stressful. Since the stress results with desperate actions at times, such as cheating to pass a class, the obvious issues it raises are questions like: 1) how effective is the learning process at UCD for these stressed foreign students; 2) how does this affect the faculty and staff trying to teach these students, 3) how much time and cost is involved in UCD staff needing to provide counseling and to address these incidences; and 4) how does UCD having the highest rate of cheating revealed in this recent report in the media affect UCD’s reputation?
VIII. UCD exacerbates the on-campus housing shortage by significantly increasing its student population
In 2014 the UC system started the avalanche by admitting significantly more out-of-state and international students, who pay tuition almost triple that of resident students. For instance, it is notable that in fall 2016, UCD has invited admission to an astonishing 6,759 international students and 3,623 out-of-state students, totaling 10,382 non-resident students. This is out of the total of 28,971 newly admitted students including the 18,589 California resident students who applied for admission to UCD. So this year UCD has admitted 36% more non-resident students while not building anywhere near enough on-campus housing for these non-resident (or resident) students, particularly for the four years they will attend UCD.
While UCD has not yet confirmed how many accepted students have responded to enroll, the projected total school population is estimated to be 37,000 in fall 2016. UCD will be enrolling at least 9,100 new undergrads including freshman and transfer students, more than ever before, yet UCD has not taken the action needed to house these students on-campus.
An additional issue emerging over recent years was that, many of these non-resident students had been being admitted at the expense of California resident students who were denied admission throughout the UC system.
A California state audit exposed this scandal due to public outcry. The audit also revealed that the standards for acceptance were being lowered for non-resident students. State Auditor Elaine Howle stated in the report that “Over the past several years, the university has undermined its commitment to resident students.”
In response, the State legislature has been working on legislation to put a cap on non-resident students and to the lowered standards used by UC to accept the many non-resident students, instead of California resident students.
However, despite these concerns raised by the public and the Legislature, UCD went on to accept 60% more non-resident students in 2015 including 34.4% more international students and 25.5% more out-of-state students and accepted 11.2% fewer California resident students.
In response to UC ignoring concerns regarding so many non-resident students being admitted while California resident students were being denied admission, the State legislature made clear that the UC system needs to correct the situation. As a result, in order to qualify for the budgetary agreement of $25 million funding from the State, UC President Napolitano then stated that all of the UC system would be adding 10,000 additional California students by 2018 as covered in this LA Times article:
5,000 new California resident students were to be frontloaded and added in 2016, and the 2,500 more students in 2017 and the last 2,500 in 2018. However, adding 5,000 California resident students systemwide ( (in 2016) then grew to 6,500, to by January of this year due to the UC systemwide changing the 2015 student population baseline (which dipped lower) to the higher 2014 baseline. It is notable that UCD accepted more undergrads in 2014 than any other UC in the system, undoubtedly due to the Chancellor Katehi’s UCD 2020 Initiative. But it is also interesting that this same this article raises the concerns of the UC campuses and their students, expressing apprehension of their ability to accommodate so many new students so quickly including housing needs. Although President Napolitano mentioned that UC is looking into the provision of 14,000 additional student beds, that number is to be divided up in some undefined way amongst the nine UC campuses, with the goal of building the necessary housing by 2020. However, the housing is needed sooner since the additional 10,000 students will be enrolled by 2018. Furthermore, since UCD has had such a backlog of unmet on-campus housing needs for so many years, plus the deluge of of thousands more students coming before 2020, that UCD alone could easily use all 14,000 beds and more, primarily in the form of on-campus apartments (as opposed to first-year dormitories).
It now appears that UCD will be getting at least 1,000 additional students of the 6,500 (systemwide) new California resident students in fall of 2016.
It also appears that between this new addition of California student residents plus the UCD 2020 Initiative of 5,000 undergrads, plus a significant increase in graduate students, UCD is planning to add 6,000 additional students by 2020. Yet, UCD has not done enough to address or expedite the building of on-campus housing to address its already severe on-campus housing shortage. This is evident because UCD announced last fall that it would not be able to house all of the students they were adding in fall of 2016. Instead of building the on-campus housing needed, UCD is taking significant numbers of apartments in the City off the market, making them unavailable to non-students, by using “master leases” to reserve the units for for UCD students. These UCD “master leases” are making it harder for our workforce and families find rental housing in the City.
Meanwhile, it is important to recognize that there is no mandate for the UCD 2020 Initiative, which is a self-directed accelerated student population growth concept for UCD to try to gain revenue from adding 4,500 more non-resident students. There is no reason why UCD cannot slow down or completely abandon the goal of adding 5,000 more students by 2020. UCD needs to reevaluate its aggressive plan and focus instead on first getting the faculty, staff, facilities and on-campus housing in place. This plan was more about increasing UCD revenue by significantly increasing non-resident student enrollment than it was about expanding UCD’s teaching abilities. The appendix includes links to articles clarifying the real financial objectives and goals behind the “UCD 2020 Initiative,” and the lack of information how the influx of new students was to be accommodated.
Here is the 2020 initiative Task Force report for reference released in 2012 which had very little information on addressing the on-campus housing needs for such an influx of additional UCD students. Furthermore, in the summary section the report recommended outreach to faculty, staff, students, the state and federal government, and “regional stakeholders”, but did not specifically mention our City government or community which clearly would be significantly impacted.
- UCD can dial back its 2020 Initiative at any time, and should do so now
It is important to understand that UCD’s 2020 Initiative to recruit 4,500 additional non-resident students for more revenue is not mandated in any way by the State or by the UC system. Unlike the 2015 State Legislature agreement with the UC system to accept 10,000 additional California resident students systemwide in exchange for $25 million in state funding, the UCD 2020 Initiative was spearheaded by former Chancellor Katehi, and can be slowed down or stopped at any time. Regarding the State’s mandate for funding, UCD’s allocation is to accept 1,000 more resident students in 2016. However, together with 2020 Initiative with its unrealistic and accelerated increase of 5,000 more undergrads alone, that adds up to at least 6,000 additional undergrads alone (not including significantly more graduate students) by 2020.
The overly-aggressive “UCD 2020 Initiative” was entirely introduced and advocated for by Chancellor Katehi strictly for the purpose of trying to raise additional revenue by adding 4,500 international and out-of-state students (who pay higher tuition) by 2020. This would mean that 19% of the UCD campus undergrads would be international and out-of-state non-resident students by 2020. But at what cost financially, as well in terms of impacts? It seems clear now that the initiative was ill-conceived, poorly planned and prematurely introduced. It should be dramatically slowed down or halted because it is abundantly evident that UCD lacks the infrastructure to handle this much rapid enrollment growth, as does our community.
Furthermore, UCD acknowledge in March 2013 by now Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexter acknowledged that the actual (net) revenue figure for UCD will depend upon the answer to many unresolved questions. This includes the challenges of how the costly infrastructure of significantly hundreds more faculty and staff, as well as facilities and services for adding 5,000, primarily non-resident students, by 2020.
Since these UCD infrastructure costs would carry into the future, the plan appears to have far too much cost, impacts into the future. This is particularly the case since it is apparent that UCD has been expecting the City of Davis to subsidize UCD’s aggressive growth plans with providing the vast majority of the housing for the four years the additional 4,500 non-residents students would attend UCD.
UCD’s own 2020 Initiative task Force, which included representatives from faculty, staff and students, raised the many issues and concerns that an accelerating growth plan would bring with it including the significant funding that would be needed for significantly more faculty, staff, services and facilities. While raising these issues the Task force did acknowledge that this infrastructure needed to occur on a timely basis for this aggressive growth plan to have any chance to succeed. The reality is that UCD needed to first have the staffing and facilities in place before moving forward with the 2020 Initiative, but this infrastructure was not in place including what little additional on-campus housing was planned.
The result is that UCD continued to barrel forward and accepted 60% more non-resident students last year and will be accepting even more this year in Fall 2016. This action certainly seems to imply that UCD is trying to get the City to address UCD’s housing shortage. It also looks like UCD was assuming that the City should accept the multitude of impacts and costs this rapid growth will impose on Davis citizens and neighborhoods.
The obvious solution is that UCD needs to dial back on its poorly planned, over-ambitious 2020 Initiative which is significantly and negatively impacting our community in many ways including disrupting our City planning, our community’s slow-growth policies, and adding enormous costs to our City for all of the additional infrastructure needed now and into the future.
UCD needs to take responsibility for its own growth needs now and into the future, particularly because it has over 5,300 acres available. The City has been providing housing to about 70% of UCD student housing for many years. We are now at a critical turning point where the opportunistic behavior by UCD cannot be allowed to continue. UCD needs to build the on-campus housing needed now for the sake of its students, our City, neighboring cities, and our environment. In regard to sustainability, UCD building the needed on-campus housing would reduce our carbon footprint significantly in Davis by reducing the commuting needs of more than 34,000 UCD students. Instead of continuing its practice of primarily building low-rise, low-density housing, UCD needs to build more high-rise, high-density on-campus housing where it would work well, and would provide far more needed student housing. Other California universities have taken this approach and are continuing to do so. With more than 5,300 acres, so can UCD.
UCD’s poor planning impacts Davis
- UCD’s negligence is causing growth pressures that force Davis to exceed its “fair share” of regional housing development, thereby inviting more accelerated growth for Davis
The Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) has established a Regional Housing Need Assignment (RHNA), which specifies the amount of new housing each city is responsible for providing during a given interval. Through previous good planning efforts, Davis already has enough housing planned to provide its regional fair share of housing for the RHNA cycle that lasts until 2021. The SACOG fair share cycles are timed and if an excess of housing is built before the current cycle ends, the City will get no credit for it toward the next cycle. This is critical because the double edged sword is that it also invites SACOG to increase our fair share requirement for the next cycle.
However, as a result of UCD’s negligence in not building needed on-campus housing, private sector developers and property owners have responded by trying to jam huge student-oriented apartment complexes into neighborhoods where the traffic, parking and other impacts would be greatly felt. Because our City has a policy of slow growth, it is important to understand that absorbing additional off-campus housing in our community would do more than requiring Davis residents to incur higher infrastructure costs. It would also encourage a higher SACOG fair share assignment for our next eight-year RHNA cycle starting in four years.
For instance, if several enormous apartment projects targeting students (i.e. Sterling Apartments and Lincoln40) were to be approved and built before 2021, Davis would get no SACOG fair share credit because the number of units would exceed the RHNA assignment Davis has been given for this cycle. RHNA housing excesses are not allowed to carry over to the next SACOG cycle. Therefore, our City would need to provide many more additional units in our upcoming SACOG RHNA cycle in 2021.
In short, our City has fulfilled its fair share of growth until 2021, and any additional projects, especially apartments encompassing a large number of bedrooms, would add to our next fair share of growth. Plus, a higher fair share assignment may be assigned because Davis would have significantly exceeded our current “fair share” assignment. The solution is that UCD’s student housing needs to be built on UCD land using UCD infrastructure and services for its own growth. Constructing high-density student housing in the City would have significant long-term impacts especially to nearby neighborhoods, and consequences for Davis.
- UCD’s LRDP update process announced in Fall 2015 and the on-campus housing numbers “shell game”
UCD began its Long Range Development Program (LRDP) update process in the fall of 2015. The public was invited to give input through UCD’s on-line website and to view materials at a few public meetings (at least one of which was announced less than 24 hours in advance). Although the comment period has ended, the website with initial information and illustrations is still posted at:
Our citizen group notified the public via emails, editorials and at City Council public comment periods. We also alerted folks to the avalanche of new students UCD is planning to add, with enrollment projected to reach 39,000 by 2027. We have also alerted the community that the LRDP’s draft on-campus housing provisions are grossly insufficient to accommodate the approaching tidal wave of new students.
While UCD continues trying to manipulate the numbers, the reality according to UCD’s own data is that the university had at least 34,000 students on-campus last fall. (Note: the total student population count was over 36,000 including students at Sacramento Medical Center and other satellite locations). UCD has made various claims that exaggerate the number of students housed on campus because campus administrators use the average number of students over the three quarters rather than the higher fall enrollment. The number of students declines between the fall and spring quarters, but the correct number to use in determining on-campus housing needs is the initial fall enrollment because the higher number of students in the first quarter obviously needed somewhere to live while attending UCD. Using an average of the three academic quarters is misleading because enrollment drops considerably between the fall and spring quarter.
In addition, UCD does not provide the more relevant breakdown of how many freshman dorm beds are on-campus. Dormitories provide housing for only one year, as compared to apartment beds that provide housing for the full 4-5 years that students attend UCD. In fact, UCD has acknowledged that only 55% of students graduate in 4 years which increases the need for additional housing for “super-seniors” since they need to live in Davis a year or more longer. Students have complained for years that UCD is currently over-crowded and they cannot get into the classes they need to graduate on time.
When UCD representatives were questioned at a recent public meeting about the ratio of dorms to on-campus student apartments, the response was roughly 60% of one-year dorm beds to only 40% on-campus student apartments. Other than West Village, where UCD has not yet built 1,000 of the 3,000 student apartments beds originally planned. UCD has primarily just been adding some new dorm space on the campus and simply renovating outdated dorms. After their first year at UCD, freshman students living on the dorms are forced off campus to find housing elsewhere, which is primarily in Davis, thereby overwhelming our rental housing supply. Some of that housing is in deplorable condition because of delinquent landlords who do little or nothing to maintain the units they own while charging high rents. This is another reason why UCD needs to provide decent and dedicated housing on-campus, reserved and always available to their own students. Neighboring communities like Woodland, Dixon and Winters are also starting to raise concerns about the influx of UCD students due to UCD’s negligence. In Davis, it is clear that a disproportionate number of students are occupying our rental housing.
UCD’s negligence and inaction is unfair to its students, unfair to our community, and unfair to neighboring communities. UCD needs to step up and move forward with high density on-campus housing on the many sites available throughout the campus, such as the Orchard Park apartment complex which has been vacant for over 2 years. UCD needs to build much higher densities than 3-4 floors. Other campuses are developing much higher apartment buildings to maximize the number of on-campus beds while making the most efficient use of campus land. More efficient planning also needs to be done by UCD. For instance, Orchard Park’s premature closure reduced the supply of on-campus housing, forcing more students into our community. Orchard Park’s extended closure—with no clear plan for its replacement or renovation yet– has undoubtedly cost UCD a significant loss of revenue.
XII. UCD preaches, but does not practice “sustainable planning” to build high density on-campus housing, and the consequences of “maxi-dorm” proposals in our community
UCD has claimed that is embraces “sustainable planning” yet it has a very limited supply of low-density campus housing in comparison to other universities forces students after freshman year to commute from rental housing often located far from campus. This greatly diminishes the number of students that could be housed on campus, and is certainly not a testimony to practicing sustainable planning. Again, there is nothing that would do more to reduce the Davis areas carbon footprint, than for UCD to build significantly more high density on-campus housing with a minimum of 6 or more story housing projects rather than the only 2, 3, and only sometimes 4 story housing (i.e. only in some freshman dorms).
Meanwhile, the consequences of UCD’s deficiency of on-campus housing has resulted with “maxi-dorms” of 5-story student-oriented apartments (i.e. Sterling Properties and Lincoln40) being proposed to be jammed into existing neighborhoods with traditional one-and two-story housing. The Lincoln40 proposal on West Olive Drive does not want to include any affordable housing, but wants to build expensive luxury student apartments. Although not a maxi-dorm, the 4-story Trackside mixed-use proposal on Third St. is over-sized relative to the surrounding historical neighborhood with its small cottages. These imposing project proposals are coming forward due to UCD’s negligence in building its needed on-campus housing. The result is devastating, creating division in our community and causing Davis neighborhoods to be pitted against other neighborhoods due to their strong opposition trying to deflect these projects. The maxi-dorms would house more than 700 students each in the neighborhood they are located. Imagine those impacts on your neighborhood? These maxi-dorms are primarily enormous 4-5 bedroom apartments with individual baths which are not marketable to non-students, and belong on the campus, not in the City. These massive projects are simply not compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods.
While 5-story or higher maxi-dorms are being proposed in the City impacting our neighborhoods, it is notable that UCD does not have any on-campus apartments over 3-stories. Some freshman dorms are 4-stories, but taller, higher density on-campus apartments are needed which can house more students the entire time they attend UCD. Other campuses are providing higher density housing, often at no cost to the campuses utilizing land-leases by student housing development companies like American Campus Communities, so why not UCD?
Housing many more students on-campus would significantly reduce student commuting, thereby reducing traffic and parking and energy consumption by car commuting. Furthermore, since only on-campus housing can be legally dedicated and reserved for students, UCD housing would always be available for its students, and the affordability could be controlled as well, unlike housing in our City.
It would be a win-win for all, however UCD inaction in producing high-density housing is passing on all of the above-cited problems onto their students, our City, and neighborhood communities.
XIII. UCD’s resources and how it has been prioritizing their spending
UCD has proudly announced that it is a leading university and that for the last few years it has met and exceeded its goal of establishing a $1-BILLION-dollar endowment fund. Less than 100 universities in the nation have this level of funding that UCD has. Although some of these monies may be “ear-marked” to some extent, not all of it is, and capital expenditures from UCD have been used for UCD’s “pet projects” instead of assigning priority to the critical need for on-campus student housing. For instance, UCD prioritized building a new music recital center, and a new art center and a new International Student Center all under construction or nearing completion now. Yet UCD planned to only add 500 freshmen dorm beds, providing housing for only one year at the proposed Tercero IV project, which will not be built until 2017. Meanwhile, UCD announced that it planned to admit 9,500 new undergrads September 2016, knowing that it cannot house all of the new enrollees. This number does not include graduate and post-doctorate students, which when added results in a total of 10,383 of new students which have been invited for admission to UCD for the fall of 2016. UCD has acknowledged that the UCD campus admitted more than 25,000 new undergrads in 2014, more than any other UC campus that year.
But what kind of “planning” is this by UCD? The fact is that it is UCD’s irresponsible lack of planning that is exacerbating a housing shortage that UCD is imposing on our City and neighboring cities.
There is no good reason why UCD cannot match the performance of other California campuses and universities nationwide that are meeting the needs of their students by building high density housing on-campus.
Solutions on how and where UCD can provide far more on-campus housing
XIV. What can be done to remedy UCD’s on-campus student housing deficit and how have other universities solved this problem? Plus, UCD has plenty of good locations for more on-campus housing
UCD’s LRDP update invited public input from our community when it started last fall, but what was done with that input? Numerous letters by our citizens group, Citizens for Responsible Planning, were submitted throughout the LRDP process, and also forwarded to the Chancellor, UC President Napolitano, our Governor and the Regents, Stage legislators involved with State Education Committees, and of course our City Council and City staff. More than 100 letters were sent documenting the serious lack of UCD on-campus student housing and the impacts it was causing to UCD students, our community, and neighboring communities.
In addition, recommendations were made, including identifying more than 100 acres of sites on or near the core campus where much more high density student housing could be accommodated. Much higher density housing, over 4-stories belongs on the UCD campus where it is needed and works best for the UCD students, our community, neighboring communities and our environment. This solution would greatly reduce the impacts from UCD on our City and neighboring cities while greatly reducing our carbon footprint for sustainable planning. The list of the sites (website link) and the map for these sites (website link) are listed on this website to view. We specifically recommended against any housing being built on the Russell and Howard recreational greenfields (website link), which would impose more traffic on the already impacted Russell Blvd., particularly since it has recently been narrowed and traffic congestion is already bad. Furthermore, these beautiful fields are used so much for recreation by so many students, and building high rises in that location would result in a “tunnel” effect down Russell Blvd, along with ruining the transitional area of where the City meets UCD.
Yet, what came back from UCD’s planners was exactly what we recommended against, due to the impacts on the students and our community. The UCD planners instead proposed building high-rises on the beautiful Russell and Howard recreational greenfields, but also proposed building far fewer on-campus housing units with far-lower densities than what could have been built. Furthermore, the public’s recommendations for more than 100 acres other of on-campus sites on, or near the core campus, have been ignored so far. So while other universities have been, and continue to build high-density housing, UCD has persisted in planning for only low density housing, thereby wasting land and vastly reducing the number of student beds that can be accommodated on campus. The obvious question is why has UCD asked for input from the Davis community, when it is only to be ignored and discarded? Also, why is UCD not keeping up with what other California universities are doing with efficient, sustainable, high-density on-campus housing?
- UCD needs to build on-campus housing as other California universities are currently accomplishing UCD has used the preservation of its capital funds as an excuse for not building urgently needed on-campus student housing. Yet, the university has assigned high priority to building non-essential structures such as a new multi-million-dollar art center, another multi-million-dollar music recital center, and an International Student Center, all under construction or nearing construction. UCD has proudly announced in recent years now that it has surpassed more than $1 BILLION dollars in its endowment fund, an enormous fund which less than 100 universities have in the United States. Yet, UCD is only planning to provide 500 one-year freshmen dorm beds, which will not be completed until sometime in 2017. Meanwhile, UCD has accepted at least 9,500 new undergrads for the fall quarter of 2016. UCD claims to prioritize the needs of its students, however that is clearly not the case regarding the desperate need for on-campus housing that has existed for many years, particularly taking into consideration the aggressive UCD 2020 Initiative announced by the Chancellor in 2011. Instead, UCD continues to try to defer its housing needs onto Davis and neighboring cities.
While UCD is apparently playing a “shell game” on how they are trying to avoid funding the building of on-campus housing, other campuses have built the on-campus housing without using university capital funds. This has been accomplished by arranging “land leases” with companies like American Campus Communities (ACC), which is a hugely successful company that has been constructing and managing campus housing for over 24 years. ACC will provide the capital funding to build on-campus housing in exchange for long-term land leases on the campus. UCD has done this using smaller local companies to build “The Colleges at La Rue” and West Village. However, these smaller companies only build lower density projects limited to 4 stories or less, which greatly diminishes the number of on-campus beds that could have been provided at those sites. This is not efficient, sustainable planning. This trend needs to change to much higher density housing on the campus where it can be easily accommodated without the impacts that much higher densities would impose on our City’s neighborhoods.
UC Irvine and UC Berkeley are good examples of campuses which in recent years have successfully partnered with ACC to build a significant amount of student housing without incurring any university capital investment campuses.) Housing for over 125,000 student beds have been built by ACC in over 100 projects throughout the United States. For more information, see:
Many of these projects have been high density construction, far more than the 3-4 story structures that UCD has been limiting itself to because it is cheaper to build wood-framed housing (but which only allows a maximum of four stories). UC Irvine’s success in providing on campus housing was accomplished by ACC, and now UC Berkeley and other California universities are working with ACC. Steel framing is needed beyond four floors, and UCD certainly has already built plenty of taller administration and other buildings on campus with steel framing, so why have they not done so to provide more student housing?
Some additional helpful UC LRDP data to compare where other UC’s with far less land than UCD are committed to providing at least 50% housing for their entire student population, yet UCD has not “stepped-up” to do so itself. UCD comparatively is proposing to provide only 40% of the housing needed for its student population. This is inexcusable, since UCD is the largest UC campus with over 5,300 acres yet is the campus which has provided the least amount of on-campus housing historically.
Here is the LRDP data from other UC’s which are providing at least 50% housing for all of their student population:
UC Santa Barbara projects providing 50 percent of total student housing and 100% of all new incoming student housing needs
UC Irvine’s LRDP projects providing over 50% of total student housing
UC Riverside projects providing housing for over 50% of total student housing
UC San Diego projects housing over 50% of total student housing
UC Merced plans on housing 50% of total student housing
UC Santa Cruz plans to house 50% of undergrads, 25% of grads, 25% of faculty, 3% of staff
Other California universities have been on the cutting edge of building plenty of on-campus student housing, without even needing to invest university capital funding. So why not UCD?
For instance, CSU Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has built a huge amount of student housing and has committed to housing 65% of their total student population on-campus “as soon as possible” and 100% of all incoming students. Meanwhile, UCD, the largest UC campus, is targeting to house only 40% if its student population and only 90% of incoming students. So UCD has an enormous backlog of promised on-housing that they have still not delivered on and needs to catch-up.
UCD claims to have provided on-campus housing to 27% of its students, however this percentage is falsely inflated because it is based upon an averaged campus population, rather than the actual fall quarter campus student population. For instance, thisaveraging manipulation falsely reduces last year’s on-campus student population from 34,000 to 32,000 students, so when divided by the number of beds, this inflates the actual percentage. The student population needs to be based upon the actual fall enrollment when the most students are present who need housing, not theoretical “averaging” which lowers the actual number of beds that are actually needed to house the UCD students.
UC Santa Cruz has also built a significant amount of on-campus housing over the years and is continuing to build high density housing on-campus to accommodate its students. UC Santa Cruz also has committed to continuing to provide more on-campus housing and has even implemented creative housing such as having an on-campus recreational vehicle park. This creative housing option has been so successful that the university is now slowly replacing the student’s private units with campus-owned units to continue this type of housing for the students. UCD could also offer this type of housing for RVs, small mobile homes, and perhaps even “tiny houses” on the massive amount of under-utilized campus land just south of I-80 near the UCD (Old Davis Road) exit leading onto campus. This type of housing could be temporary until UCD catches up with building permanent high density student housing, or long- term if it works out well as it has at UC Santa Cruz.
Compounding the problem is the fact that UCD does not reveal that approximately 60% of what housing is on campus consists of freshman dorms, housing the students for only one year as opposed the 4-5 years that it takes most students to achieve graduation from UCD. In the 1989 MOU between UCD and the City, UCD promised to provide on-campus housing for 25% of the entire student population as well as 35% of any additional students added to the total student population annually. None of this materialized because the compounding of more students every year would have increased the number of on-campus housing units significantly over the past 27 years. In addition, the UC’s own plan for UCD to provide at least 38% on campus housing by 2012 never happened, no less the target of 40% or the UC systemwide goal of 42% on all the campuses.
Yet, so many UC’s including UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, UC Riverside, UC Merced, and UC Santa Cruz have all committed to building 50% of all of their student population housing needs on campus, while UCD, the largest UC campus, is targeting only 40%. UCD has announced that it is willing to house 90% of only its new students, however both UC Santa Barbara and CSU Cal Poly San Luis Obispo are planning and committed to housing 100% of all of their new students.
So why isn’t UCD stepping up like the other UC’s? With UCD having over 5,300 acres, so much more land than any other UC, there is no excuse why it cannot meet and exceed the on-campus housing commitments that these other California universities are providing. UC Davis needs to bring its housing commitments up to par with these other California universities particularly since UCD has the most land, yet is providing the least on-campus student housing.
So how is it that all of these other campuses are capable of planning and actually building significant amounts of student housing except while UCD continues lagging behind? UCD claims to embrace “sustainable” planning, yet it has not done nearly enough in 27 years to build the on-campus housing needed for their now escalated student population. UCD expects to enroll 9,500 new undergrad students for the fall 2016 term, and yet UCD did not do the planning and implementation to provide the on-campus housing needed by the new enrollees. Instead, UCD has had the audacity to complain that the City has a low vacancy rate of 0.2%, for which UCD is primarily responsible. The low vacancy rate in Davis is a significant problem due to the lack of on-campus housing commensurate with UCD’s self-directed, accelerated growth and the subsequent disproportionate number of UCD students forced off campus after freshman year to find housing in Davis and neighboring communities. At this point, Woodland, Winters and even Dixon are starting to complain about the influx of UCD students using a significant amount of their rental housing, thereby reducing the availability of that housing for local workforce families.
A call to action by our Davis Community including a petition for UCD to “step up” on on-campus housing
XVI. A call to action by our community to the City and UCD, sign our petition, join our citizens group, write a letter, and ask your Davis friends and neighbors to do the same to help protect the future of Davis
Davis needs to take action now to demand significantly more on-campus housing by UCD. The City is formed a UCD – LRDP City Council subcommittee comprised of Mayor Robb Davis and Councilmember Rochelle Swanson to address UCD LRDP planning issues that would affect Davis, including the lack of on- campus housing. The City is also forming a committee of two City Council members to with work UCD on other issues not necessarily related to the UCD LRDP, including issues such as the shared fire department services.
Because our citizens group has been working on this issue formally for almost a year, and due to past experience participating in Davis General Plan issues, the 2008 General Plan Update Housing Element Steering Committee, and Planning Commission issues regarding this deficit of on-campus housing for decades, we have composed a petition making clear the housing objectives that UCD needs to accomplish — and which other UC’s and CSU’s have already accomplished. After all, if UCD wishes to truly be a “good neighbor” to our community and practice sustainable planning, it begins with accomplishing what other California universities already have done by building the needed on-campus housing now.
Your help is needed by please signing the petition online on our website at ???citizensplanningdavis.org.??? We ask that you provide your name, address, and contact information including email so we can keep you posted on this critical issue. It would help greatly to also provide your phone number, and please understand that none of this information will be shared with the public. We will provide the names, addresses, and emails (unless you prefer we withhold your email) only to the City Council because they would expect to contact you for follow up on this issue by email). We need your email to keep you posted, but again we will not publish, or share the email list.
Please help by passing the word because the UCD LRDP process is moving along and the University will present a more finalized plan soon, which would then move forward for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the UCD LRDP update.
Your help will be needed within weeks (possibly as early as November through January) to submit questions for the “scoping period” of the EIR to which the UCD LRDP is subject. Submitting your scoping comments and concerns will help ensure that the EIR addresses the lack of sufficient on-campus student housing and the resulting impacts on the UCD students, our community and neighboring communities. Raising the issue of the need for building more housing on on-campus for additional high density that will meet the needs of UCD and the City. Because UCD has been reluctant to provide sufficient housing for almost three decades, we anticipate needing everyone’s help to give plenty of input to UCD’s planning department as well as Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexter, UC President Napolitano and the Regents, our State Legislators, and our City Council and City Staff to make sure that the UC system provides the needed on-campus student housing, thereby putting an end to the long-term opportunistic relationship that UCD has long had with our City. UCD has deferred far too much of its student housing needs on our community for far too long, which in turn has been imposing costs and impacts like traffic, parking, mini-dorms and now enormous apartment complexes being shoe-horned into our neighborhoods. Our community must not wind up subsidizing the cost of UCD housing needs into our City and the additional burden placed on our infrastructure including our water, wastewater treatment, and City services, rather than this student housing being appropriately located on UCD land using their infrastructure and services and to reduce the commuting needs of the students. UCD has the ability to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the Davis area by building the backlog of needed on-campus housing for the UCD students. Since UCD claims to embrace green, sustainable planning, they need to practice it.
Our community needs to take action now, to help preserve our neighborhoods and to protect the future of Davis. UCD needs to step up like other UC’s are and catch-up with the backlog of providing adequate on-campus housing since it has plenty of land with its 5,300 acres and plenty of resources with its more than $1-Billion-dollar endowment fund. This planning must happen now with the current UCD LRDP update or UCD will continue to defer its enormous and increasing housing needs onto our City which is unfair to UCD students who need the on-campus housing, while also costing Davis residents and diminishing the rental housing availability needed by our workforce and families.
To help with this community effort we ask that you join our Citizens for Responsible Planning group, write letters to the editor advocating for much more UCD on-campus student housing and to sign the petition, and to UCD (see email addresses below). Also please pass the word to help gather the on-line signatures, and including Davis friends and family. For more information, please contact email@example.com or call (530) 756-5165.
XVII. Important Contact information:
Citizens for Responsible Planning = firstname.lastname@example.org (530) 756-5165
Davis Enterprise = email@example.com (be certain to include your name, address and phone number or they will not print your letter).
City Council = firstname.lastname@example.org (note: includes City Staff in planning and the City Manager)
Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexter = email@example.com
UCD Assistant Vice Chancellor, Campus Planning and Community Resources
Bob Segar = firstname.lastname@example.org
UC President Napolitano = President@ucop.edu and email@example.com
UC Regents = firstname.lastname@example.org (Governor Jerry Brown is on the Board of Regents)
The following Legislators are out our local representatives and others who have been involved in state education committees involving the UC issues.
Assemblyman Bill Dodd email@example.com
Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy firstname.lastname@example.org
Assemblyman Jose Medina email@example.com
Senator Lois Wolk firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Marty Block email@example.com
Senator Leon de Leon firstname.lastname@example.org