UCD’s poor planning impacts Davis

10) 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.

11) 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.

12) 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.

13) 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.