Entries categorized "Housing"

Charging 12 months rent for nine months occupancy

Photo source: KRCA

By John Troidl

The majority of off campus and some of the on-campus housing targeting UC Davis students requires applicants for residence to sign a 12 month lease.  When I first came to Davis and some students told me about this practice, I was astonished and asked them if they were sure this was true:  Maybe they misunderstood the terms of the standard lease because after all these were young people without a lot of experiences with real estate and leasing. 

They were correct, it turns out, and they told me about the "Summer Scramble" of trying to sublet their places (with/without landlord permission) to recoup at least some of the lost cash they spent for rent on apartments that they did not need for the Summer.  Unbelievable!

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Promised Nishi Mitigation Features May Never Materialize


Proponents of Nishi have made much of the promised mitigation features: the tree screen and the air filters. One has to ask, of course, why mitigation is even necessary, and the EIR for the project makes that clear: the location between I-80 and the train tracks brings with it poor air quality and "significant and unavoidable" health impacts. There is no controversy on that point, although some "merchants of doubt" have tried to turn it into one.

Questions have also been raised about whether the promised mitigation will do what it is supposed to do; for example, Dr. Thomas Cahill has pointed out that the tree screen will be much less effective because the freeway is elevated adjacent to Nishi, and the supposed 95% efficiency of the air filters has never actually been demonstrated in a real-life situation (with filters operating at a much lower efficiency in real-life situations).

But the situation is even worse than that. The promised mitigation measures might not even be implemented.

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Davis Vanguard Continues to Deny Nishi Traffic Problem and Attempts to Pour Cold Water on John Troidl's Article

Nishi-OldDavisRdBy Dan Cornford

In response to John Troidl's article of yesterday in the Davisite the DV published an article or "commentator" today entitled "Commentary: Nonsensical Argument that Nishi Project Will Make Downtown Traffic Worse."

Below I will paste in my response to David Gs arguments and his failure to address any of John's. But I urge others to post their comments on the DV today as soon as possible as the traffic issue, IMHO resonates like no other when it comes to Nishi.

It will be interesting to see if the DV allows my short post not because I briefly argue against DG's position, but because in his article DG studiously avoids making any mention of the fact that this article appeared on the Davisite (Now what could possibly be the reason for that? A prize for the right answer.), but instead says he found it on his Facebook feed.


Here is is my attempted short post on the DV:

Most unsurprisingly, David makes no effort whatsoever to summarize let alone do justice to John Troidl's article and argument. This is unlike with some of his previous adversaries who he summarizes at length. Perhaps he fears the weight and substance of John's argument. It is worth pointing out also that with Nishi 1.0, when access by Olive Drive to Nishi was permitted, David parroted exactly the same argument (and the very flawed EIR traffic study supporting such an assertion) yet now he, and most Nishi 2.0 advocates, argue that the presumed lack of access (No-one knows how long this agreement with UCD will hold up!) totally negate the real traffic problems created by Nishi. And he thus further shreds his credibility. If you want to read John's article in full and read comments on it go to:


Edit added 5/23/18 at 11:50 AM: Having originally included the link to the Davisite with my comment, they have now deleted the link that link or "edited" it which proves my point and shows that they see the Davisite as a threat.

The Nishi Project Will Make Downtown Traffic Worse

By John Troidl

I don't get it: If I read the YES ON J (pro-Nishi) material, it seems like they are saying that there will be essentially no ("limited") traffic impact if the Nishi development is approved and actually built.

 How can that possibly be?

There are 700 parking spots planned for the Nishi property. One for each housing unit, right there fronting the highway. Wait, that's just one parking space for each apartment.... 1/3 of a car for each bed located at Nishi.

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If you look at most downtowns...

Bw-bicyclestatueBy Jon Li

Most downtowns have lots of jobs, and lots of people living downtown. Davis has neither.

The economic and business problems with Davis are outside the General Plan, which only deals in land use terms with housing and traffic. The Downtown Plan process is about how to make Davis “look” more appealing, as though that will work.

The merchants’ answer is a new parking structure so that people can drive their cars. But that is 20th century suburbia. What about re-thinking the downtown as an urban center, with six to ten story buildings, as high as UCD’s Sproul Hall which is 9 stories.

The problems with Davis have to do with the non-existent economy. Davis city staff with their grand salaries want to keep Davis just the way it is, as though the state hasn’t killed the Redevelopment Agency almost a decade ago. Amazon is transforming the world economy, and Davis needs to figure out how to respond.

Continue reading "If you look at most downtowns..." »

Dr. Thomas Cahill Responds to Bob Dunning

In a recent Enterprise column, "Pollution Doesn't Magically End at Olive Drive," Bob Dunning  asks:

...if this is truly all about ultra-fine metals from brakes on trains, why aren’t these same folks sounding the alarm about all the other areas in town that are similarly at risk?

In response, Dr. Thomas Cahill, UC Davis Professor of Physics and Atmospheric Sciences and founder of the DELTA Group (Detection and Evaluation of Long-range Transport of Aerosols), sent us the following information and asked us to publish it.

Continue reading "Dr. Thomas Cahill Responds to Bob Dunning" »

Getting the Nishi Discussion Out of the Rabbit Hole: Part 2 of 2 (Red herrings? No, bad planning)


By Colin Walsh and Matt Williams

In Part 1, we detailed the three main reasons to vote against Nishi 2.0/Measure J that we gave at the CivEnergy forum on May 6: 1) bad air quality, 2) costs, and 3) lack of integrity in the process. If the City and the developer could rectify these three concerns by demonstrating that the air quality was acceptable for housing with an onsite study, by fixing the budget shortfall, and by returning integrity to the process, then housing could be built at Nishi – but then the project should be far larger than it is.  The current proposal is too small and does not make proper use of the site.

Instead of addressing these three serious concerns, the Vanguard spends the entirety of its May 9, 2018 article addressing the so-called “Red Herrings,” all of which were points of discussion stemming from audience questions. Here in Part 2, we show how each of the points the Vanguard raised are examples of bad planning on the part of the city, possibly due to the rush to put this matter on the June ballot at the request of the developer. Each of these concerns are real problems with the ordinance the City Council voted to put on the ballot. Clearly this ordinance should have been better vetted before going to Council. 

Continue reading "Getting the Nishi Discussion Out of the Rabbit Hole: Part 2 of 2 (Red herrings? No, bad planning)" »

Please support – and push even further – City staff's recommendations on housing in UCD's Long Range Development Plan

Watertower-ucdavisBy Greg Rowe

Item 4.L. on next Tuesday’s City Council consent agenda is a report on the draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the UC Davis Long Range Development Plan.  The report recommends that the City Council authorize the City Manager or his designee to finalize and submit a comment letter on the DEIR to UCD by the May 29 deadline.   The draft comment letter is attached to the staff report.  

The link to next Tuesday’s City Council report and draft comment letter is below. Although the report is on the Council’s consent agenda, readers are encouraged to support the draft comment letter during the Council meeting’s public comment period.  Due to ceremonial presentations, the regular agenda is not scheduled to start until 7:10 PM.


The proposed draft comment letter prepared by City staff is right on target, hitting all of the shortcomings of the draft LRDP and DEIR. In January of last year the City transmitted a detailed 9-page comment letter to UCD on the letterhead of the City Attorney’s law firm, Best Best & Krieger.  That letter, which responded to the DEIR Notice of Preparation (NOP) issued early last year by UCD, provided excellent critical analysis, comments and suggestions.  It was, in fact, one of the best NOP comment letters I’ve seen in more than 30 years working with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). It is now unfortunate that UCD decided once again to completely ignore the City’s concerns. I developed a similarly detailed comment letter, which it now appears was likewise ignored by UCD in developing both the draft LRDP and the recently released DEIR.

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Getting the Nishi Discussion Out of the Rabbit Hole: Part 1 of 2 (air quality, finances, lack of integrity)

By Colin Walsh and Matt Williams

The Davis Vanguard’s article of May 9, 2018 (“Commentary: Enough with the Weird Red Herrings”) is a disservice to the Davis Community. Instead of addressing the main body of the CivEnergy Measure J Forum (held on May 6), the article goes down a rabbit hole of answers given in response to audience questions.

Let’s start with the basics. As we stated at the CivEnergy forum, there are three main reasons to vote against this project: 1) bad air quality, 2) costs, and 3) lack of integrity in the process.

Continue reading "Getting the Nishi Discussion Out of the Rabbit Hole: Part 1 of 2 (air quality, finances, lack of integrity)" »

You Can’t Compare Davis with San Francisco

By Jon Li

Roberta Millstein recently wrote in the Davisite that if six to ten story buildings were allowed in the Davis Downtown area, then there would be all kinds of urban problems, citing an article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Wait a minute.  You can’t compare suburban Davis with world famous celebrity magnet City By The Bay with over ten times the population of 750,000.  There are villages, nooks, streets that have more economy, more society, more culture than all of Davis put together.   I get that some people came to Davis to escape that rat race, but many people who work in Davis commute from SF.

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Why the Nishi Site is Worse than Other Sites

Nishi-overall-satelliteSouthwest-nishi-satellite Northeeast-nishi-satelliteIn a recent letter to the editor in the Enterprise, Bill Wagman asks, "What is the difference [between Nishi and Olive Drive] and why do there seem to be no concerns voiced about Olive Drive. Or are there concerns which have not been made public?"

The answer is: It is possible that there are health concerns at other near–freeway sites such as Olive Drive. Peer-reviewed studies have found elevated health risks at many near-freeway sites. But the Nishi is of particular concern because it is adjacent to where the freeway goes from six lanes to three lanes, and so there are often backups on that portion of I-80, especially during weekend Tahoe traffic. More backups mean more car and truck braking. Braking releases ultrafine particulate matter into the air, and that causes health risks such as an increased risk of ischemic heart disease, an increased risk of lung damage, an increased risk of cancer, and an increased risk of developmental problems.

Also, Nishi is of particular concern because the freeway is elevated next to Nishi, so the pollutants travel further, as peer-reviewed studies of similar sites have shown.

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UCD's Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) for Campus Growth Falls Short

Photo credit: Davis Wiki

By Greg Rowe

 UC Davis recently released its draft 2018 Long Range Development Plan for guiding campus growth through 2030-31. Unfortunately, it lacks important detail and substance. Most important, the plan falls short of housing 50% of the anticipated 39,000 student enrollment called for in resolutions adopted by City Council, Yolo County Board of Supervisors, ASUCD Senate and the local Sierra Club.

The LRDP says 18,318 students will ultimately live on campus, or 47% of 2030 enrollment. This is 1,182 short of the 19,500 that would represent 50% residing on campus. This is not insignificant; each 1% shortfall means another 390 students seeking off campus housing in Davis and other cities after freshman year.

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The real costs of Nishi for taxpayers; misleading overstatements on ballot arguments in favor of Nishi

Matt-Williams-PBEBy Matt Williams

In the 2015-16 deliberations about the Nishi 2016 proposal, the City’s economic consultant EPS presented to the Finance and Budget Commission (FBC) its initial model of costs and revenues, which showed a $78,000 deficit fiscal impact for the City in the first year of full buildout, which later grew to $106,000 after correction of a math error in the model.  The FBC rightly noted that $106,000 annual deficit would come out of the pockets of Davis taxpayers.


In the robust discussion that ensued, some of the FBC members argued that the discussion should include a “cash accounting” approach in addition to the “full life-cycle accounting” approach EPS was using in their model.  The explanation was that many of the expenses included in the EPS model had already been “pre-spent” by the City and would not have to be immediately re-spent. FBC member Dan Carson calculated an estimated amount of $734,000 per year (out of an estimated total expense budget of $1,532,000), which was a 48% reduction.

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Money to sell Nishi 2.0 to voters, but no money for air quality testing for Nishi residents

Pileofmoney-croppedBy Gilbert Coville and Roberta Millstein

Davis residents have now received a second glossy multi-page mailer in support of the Nishi 2.0 project. Most likely, there will be more to come. How do proponents of Nishi spend their money? What are their priorities?

In local elections in California, campaign finance reports are filed with the local municipality. Here in Davis, these forms are viewable on the eCampaign Public Access system accessed from the City of Davis website’s Financial Disclosures page.

When trying to influence an election, corporations are required to report any related expenses as independent expenditures.

Continue reading "Money to sell Nishi 2.0 to voters, but no money for air quality testing for Nishi residents" »

Environmental Injustice is Health Injustice


by Nancy Price

Let’s Implement the Human Right to Health in Davis!

Recently, Roberta Millstein’s “Nishi 2.0 is an environmental injustice” article in the Davis Enterprise emphasized once again the problems of air quality at the Nishi site, and reminded us of the EPA definition of environmental justice - “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income, with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.”   

It’s worth noting that the EPA began operation in late December 1970, right after the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970. Clearly, their definition embraces the Human Right to Health set forth in the United Nation foundational 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states: “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”  In this country, the National Economic & Social Rights Initiative (nesri.org) and the US Human Rights Network (ushrnetwork.org) also work to implement the Human Right to Health.

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Lukewarm and half-hearted support for Nishi from the Davis City Council

CityCounci-on-NishiExpensive and glossy mailers from the Nishi developer (paid for by "Davis Gateway Student Housing LLC & Affiliated Entities") have begun arriving at Davis addresses. The back of the mailer touts support from "local leaders we trust." These leaders are said to include the five current members of the Davis City Council.

But how strong is the support of those Councilmembers? Let's review some excerpts from their comments from the meeting where the Council voted to put Nishi on the ballot on 2/6/2018. The video is located here. Numbers in parentheses refer to the approximate time that the Councilmembers' words appear in the video.

Edit 4/30/2018 to add an edited version of the full video, containing just the clips where City Council members disparage Nishi 2.0.

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What does the proposed Nishi project have to do with traffic downtown?

Nishi-OldDavisRdYesterday, Dan Cornford wrote about how the Nishi project would contribute to traffic and the deterioration of air quality downtown.  People who don't travel these roads frequently might have trouble seeing why that would be the case.  Well, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. 

If the Nishi project goes through, an underpass would be built under the railroad from the Nishi property to Old Davis Road.  As the graphic shows, there is already significant traffic from Old Davis Rd to First Street and downtown, and onto Richards Blvd.  Cars from the Nishi development – with its 700 parking spaces – would contribute to that traffic as residents drive to and through downtown.

This is just one of a number of concerns about Nishi.  As I said in an earlier post, the unhealthy air quality experienced by residents because of its location is my primary concern.  But the concerns about traffic and air quality downtown are serious ones and should not be overlooked. 

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What Residents of Nishi Won't Know (Yet It Will Still Hurt Them)

Screen Shot 2018-04-07 at 9.07.20 PMIf you read the ballot Argument in Favor of Measure J 2018 (that is, the argument in favor of Nishi 2.0, not the Measure J from 2000 that gave Davis citizens the right to vote on projects like Nishi), you will see that it is mostly focused on the issue of student housing. The Rebuttal to the Argument Against Measure J is likewise almost entirely focused on student housing.

Of course, you should also read the Argument Against Measure J (full disclosure: I am a signer) and the Rebuttal to the Argument in Favor of Measure J. In other words, if you read the arguments in favor of Nishi 2.0, you should also read the arguments against Nishi 2.0.

But my point here is a different one. When I read the ballot arguments in favor of Nishi 2.0, I am taken back to the day that the City Council voted to put Nishi 2.0 on the ballot. I am reminded of the passion of the students who spoke that evening. That passion caused me to change my planned comments and to instead speak from the heart, not about the students who were there that night, who were well-informed about the project, but the students who were not there. Here are my comments in full. They are not as well-organized or as well-articulated as I would like, but they are sincere. And they still reflect the core of my objections to Nishi 2.0.

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On Nishi 2.0: A simple question about fair housing in Davis

Housing-clipart-_9667858236By Michael Harrington

Dear City Leaders:
May I ask a simple question?

If I want to advertise a rental unit on Craig’s List, and I list if for $1,000 to anyone, but $850 to a full time, card carrying student, everyone knows that as a private owner and lessor, I cannot do this. I cannot do this even if the City thinks it’s fine and gives a City Council 5-0 vote blessing and passing an ordinance.

This question is not anti-student or anti-student affordable housing. It’s a basic fair housing question.

So, how is Nishi 2.0 any different than my renting a house to students and non-students, with a 15% discount for being a fulltime student?

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Seven FAQs about Nishi Air Quality

Nishi-pic1. What is the Nishi project?

Measure J/R gives Davis citizens the right to vote on whether residences (aimed at students, but not exclusively for students) should be built on the Nishi property.  Two years ago, Davis citizens voted down a project at Nishi.  That project had a commercial component and a residential component.  The new project proposal, often called Nishi 2.0, just has a residential component, plus allowances for daycare, nursery, outdoor exercise areas, etc.

2. Nishi is near a freeway. So what? A number of places in Davis are near freeways.  Do they have bad air quality too?

Studies show that all sites near freeways suffer from poor air quality.  Quoting a recent LA Times article:

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