1) 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.
2) 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.”
3) 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
4) 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.