If UC Irvine can produce affordable on-campus student housing, so can UCD
By Eileen Samitz
As a follow up to the recent excellent article by Roberta Millstein on the need for UCD to build far more on- campus student housing, I wanted to add to this subject and a few more points which were raised at the Oct. 22 City Council meeting regarding the UC finance overview presentation.
To begin with, I completely agree with Roberta’s key message that our community needs to keep pressing UCD to build far more on-campus housing than the City-UCD MOU is trying to get away with, 2) much higher density housing on campus needs to be built than UCD is building, and 3) the projects need to be built sooner than later and not dragged out until 2033 as the MOU allows for at least 3,000 of the 6,000 beds to be provided by UCD.
With UCD having 5,300 acres with a 900-acre campus. UCD is the largest UC in the system. However, UCD is unwilling to provide at least 50% on-campus housing like the other UCs have committed to. Why not?
Further, UCD had its second biggest fundraising ever this past year, raising $234 million dollars. Yet, why isn’t any of it going towards helping to building far more, and higher density housing on-campus as it is fully capable of?
While a 6-story student housing project is being built now in the City on Oxford Circle in the City by a private developer who had to buy the expensive land and is completely financing the project, UCD has not even proposed any 6-story high student housing project at all!
It is also notable, that the Orchard Park student housing project has been closed and demolished for over 5 years now, and UCD does not even have a plan for it yet! The first proposal was objected to by the UCD graduate students because UCD was trying to get the single graduate student housing to significantly subsidize the family graduate student housing, which was completly unfair and unaffordable to them. This proposal was for only 2 -story with possibly some 3-story housing which is ridiculous. Other campuses like UC San Diego are building a 15-story student housing project. The more units you build vertically helps to bring down the cost of each unit, particularly when the land is free as it is on the UCD campus.
I wanted to also mention that I was at the October 22nd Council meeting and asked why UC did not implement its 2002 “UC Housing for the 21st Century Task Force” plan to provide plenty of on-campus housing throughout the UC system on ll the campuses? At that time, UC knew that they would be getting a significant student population instead over the coming year and subsequently a much higher student housing demand. They were to supposed to deal with providing the housing needs in time for this increase of students on the campuses, but they didn’t. Why not? We got no response from the UC rep. One other question I raised, which was not revealed on their PowerPoint slide demonstrating the large increase of their student population, was what percent of this student population increase was non-resident students attributing to this huge growth in UC student population and its needs?
For instance, UCD launched its self-determined “UCD 2020 Initiative” rapidly recruiting 5,000 more students by 2020, 4,500 of which would be non-residents. The purpose of this was for UCD to extract triple tuition from the non-resident students. This additional enormous influx of non-resident student further exacerbated the already serious student housing shortage due to UCD’s decades of negligence to build the needed on-campus housing it was rapidly growing its student population. Also, what happened to that enormous influx of triple tuition money to UCD, and why and why wasn’t it used to rapidly build the additional needed on campus housing which UCD deliberately brought on with its poorly planned “UCD 2020 Initiative”?
I also explained to the UC finance representatives that while UCD was the largest UC campus with 5,300 aces and a 900- acre campus, yet UCD is not even providing as much (50%) on-campus housing as the other UCs. I added that, in fact, UCD has been pushing 71% of its student housing needs off. Basically, UCD teaches sustainable planning, but does not practice it.
As Roberta’s article hinted at, UC Irvine is a model of that UCD needs to be doing regarding affordable on-campus student housing. Unlike UCD, UC Irvine has committed to providing 50% on-campus student housing within a few years UC Irvine’s student housing project built are a huge success and more are currently in progress. They are beautiful and well-designed and the students and the parents love them. Further, they are more affordable than off campus housing being 10% below market rate. Studies have demonstrated that students do significantly better academically if they reside on-campus compared to living off-campus and UC Irvine can testify to this.
So simply put, if UC Irvine has been able to achieve building all of this successful and affordable on--campus student housing, so can UCD. UCD simply needs to hire competent people to get the job done like UC Irvine has, and then rather than “reinvent the wheel”, simply ask UC Irvine, how can UCD accomplish what UC Irvine has done so successfully?
Finally, Greg Rowe also asked them, why UCD had not started a student housing donation fund like some other universities have successfully done to produce student housing? Our community has been asking for that for 3 years now and UCD has continued to refuse to do so. Instead, UCD has prioritized building vanity projects like an art museum, a new music recital center, and now $40 million sports performance center instead of prioritizing the critical UCD student housing needs on campus. The UC’s response was a complete side-stepping of the question with no excuse of why they had not done it on any of the UC campuses.
In short, our community needs to continue the pressure on UCD to build far more on-campus housing that the inadequate City-UCD MOU has in it, and to also build far higher density than the mere 2-, 3- and some 4- story housing projects UCD are planning and to build them much faster than the slow pace that UCD is dragging out these projects to come on-line. UCD built the new art museum and the new music center in virtually no time, while UCD continues to drag its heels on producing the needed-on campus student housing.
For more information or if you have questions regarding the UCD student housing impacts on Davis, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (530) 756-5165.