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Affordable Housing & Community Space: A Renter Forum

UC Davis Survey: City Apartment Vacancy Rate Eases Some

UC Davis Press Release

By Julia Ann Easley

 

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The Green at West Village, scheduled to open its first 1,000 beds in fall 2020, leads a list of upcoming projects for student housing at UC Davis. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)


While the city of Davis rental market remains tight, a few more apartments are vacant compared to last year, according to a survey commissioned by Student Housing and Dining Services at UC Davis and released today (Feb. 5).

 

The blended vacancy rate — including apartments leased by the unit and by the bed — is estimated to be 1.0 percent, compared with 0.5 percent in fall 2018. Rents increased by an average of 5.5 percent.

Vacancy rates

The report on the 44th vacancy- and rental-rate survey, designed to provide the campus and surrounding communities with information to support planning, comes as UC Davis is constructing more student housing on campus and addressing the issue of the affordability of student housing more broadly.

According to the fall survey, 40 apartments, or 0.6 percent, of 7,207 leased by unit were vacant, compared with 0.4 percent vacant last year.

Among the 1,266 units leased by the bed rather than the unit as a whole, 141, or 3.4 percent, of the 4,194 beds were vacant. Last year, 0.7 percent of beds in this type of unit were vacant.

Rental rates

Most survey respondents reported static or increasing rents. The average monthly rent for unit-leased apartments of all sizes was up 4.7 percent, from $1,815 last year to $1,901. The average monthly rental rate for a bed lease was up 5.1 percent, from $954 in fall 2018 to $1,003. The blended rental rate increase of 5.5 percent is higher because it factors in the sharing of some rooms in those units leased by the bed.

The survey also reports on the provision of utilities, appliances, amenities and parking.

A total of 122 apartment complexes and property management companies representing 9,007 rental units responded to the survey. The report’s calculations exclude units rented at below-market rates; only the 8,475 market-rate units were included.

Student housing projects

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The Green at West Village, now under construction at UC Davis, will add 1,000 student beds in fall 2020 and an additional 2,300 in fall 2021. 

UC Davis, which guarantees housing to new freshman and transfer students for their first and second years, is in the midst of its most ambitious period of planning and construction for additional student housing.

The campus now accommodates about 10,500 students. Based on a 2018 memorandum of understanding with the city of Davis and Yolo County, the campus plans to grow the number of on-campus beds available to students. Using the Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) baseline of about 9,800 beds in 2016-17, it anticipates increasing on-campus housing to more than 15,000 beds by fall 2023.

The campus, city and Yolo County are working together to improve housing. In the fall, the community issued its first Joint Annual Housing Report. It outlines recently completed, ongoing and future housing developments on campus and in the city.

Among campus projects:

Fall 2019 — The campus opened the 400-bed Yosemite Hall in September.

Winter 2020 — In January, it opened the new Latitude dining facility in the Tercero Area, which will allow for future growth and greater flexibility in bed configuration.

Fall 2020 — The Green at West Village is on schedule to add 1,000 beds for transfer and continuing students.

Fall 2021 — The Green at West Village is scheduled to provide an additional 2,300 beds.

Fall 2021 — The Shasta Hall project is on track to open a year early with 800 residence hall beds for freshman students.

Fall 2023 — Anticipated for fall 2023, the expanded Orchard Park redevelopment project will provide at least 200 two-bedroom units for students with families and housing for up to 1,200 graduate students.

Through 2030 — Additional projects planned through 2030 include 2,870 student beds and 500 single- or multi-family homes for faculty and staff.

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Affordability

The campus is implementing the recommendations of the task force on student housing affordability. Among its activities, the campus:

  • continues to prioritize design and construction efficiency to achieve competitively affordable price points for new construction
  • created a basic needs advocate position to liaise with property managers and help resolve student-landlord issues, and support housing and food security efforts on campus
  • offers grants for housing assistance and basic needs to qualified students through its Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center
  • started a hotel voucher program through Aggie Compass to provide five to 10 days emergency shelter to homeless students
  • is working with city and county officials regarding strategies to reduce homelessness, including exploring partnerships for a rapid rehousing program
  • plans to launch a homeless outreach program to count students living on the streets or in their cars and offer resources

Help to find housing

Student Housing and Dining Services coordinators and property managers in the city of Davis host workshops in fall and winter quarters to help students prepare to look for and secure housing.

Also, the Associated Students of UC Davis hosts an annual Housing Day with representatives of Davis apartment complexes. This year, it will be on Thursday, Feb. 6.

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Media contact(s)

Michael Sheehan, Student Housing and Dining Services, 530-752-0339, mtsheehan@ucdavis.edu

Julia Ann Easley, News and Media Relations, 530-752-8248, mobile 530-219-4545, jaeasley@ucdavis.edu

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Comments

John Troidl

You are probably wondering when somebody is going to respond to this post which became available about 90 minutes ago.

I am not the MOST informed person regarding housing availability in Davis but I have lived in Davis for over 30 years and seen many changes regarding housing and traffic..... mainly for the worse.

It was, however, gratifying to see the list of on campus dormitory projects and timelines that UCD will be meeting.

With that positive note in mind, I have a couple of questions:

1. I do not understand this methodology. Why would below market rate units be excluded? "The report’s calculations exclude units rented at below-market rates; only the 8,475 market-rate units were included."

2. When will UC Davis house ALL second year/sophomore students? "UC Davis, which guarantees housing to new freshman and transfer students for their first and second years,"

3. How many UC Davis students are homeless?

Hopefully, there will be another article soon in this venue describing how "Housing Day" turned out this past Thursday.

I urge continued strong efforts to create a substantial housing inventory on campus of thoughtful, creative, and useful housing. One characteristic of such housing is that it would eliminate the need for the student(s) housed on campus to bring a car to UCD/Davis when they arrive. The elimination of the cost of a car would be a major expense reduction for many, many families of UC Davis students.

Thank you,

John Troidl

Greg Rowe

The media release by UCD is filled with the typical self-promotional fluff but fails to mention the many ways that UCD's malfeasance has contributed to the shortage of affordable apartments in Davis.

First, the release fails to mention several important recommendations in the report of the Chancellor's Affordable Student Housing Task Force. Titled "Turning the Curve on Affordable Student Housing," the report was issued in late June 2018. Its recommendations included limiting future enrollment increases so the campus can catch up with infrastructure needs, including housing, classroom space and student support services. It also urged that the campus increase the target of new housing units to exceed the 9,050 new beds specified in the 2018 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) and in the MOU with the City, stating "...our analysis of the available data suggests that the number needs to be higher to reverse the trend toward increasingly unafforable housing." The report also urged UCD to identify funds to support student housing, including philanthropic sources."

As some readers know, pursuant to the MOU the City, County and UCD have set up periodic "2x2x2" meetings to discuss issues of common concern. At one such meeting last year I asked the UCD representatives why they have not implemented these important recommendations, but got no meaningful reply. Some blank faces and scowls, but no direct answer.

Other universities are aggressively pursuing alumni contributions to facilitate on-campus student housing. This is a potential initiative subject that Colin Walsh, Eileen Samitz and I suggested to campus planners Bob Segar and Matt Dulcich during a meeting with them in August 2017. They promised to send that suggestion up the chain of command. Recent inquiries about this suggestion have elicited no meaningful response. Apparently building vanity projects like the Mondavi performing arts center and Shrem art museum continue having higher priority. Concerts and art are nice, but do nothing to meet student housing needs.

Despite the promises in the LRDP and MOU, it remains highly likely that the rental vacancy and affordability problems in Davis will remain problematic. Consider this: The LRDP assumes UCD enrollment will reach 39,000 during the 2030-31 academic year. But, a UCD news release on 11-26-2019 stated that enrollment had reached 39,629 during the fall quarter, with approximately 2,000 of those students enrolled in programs outside of Davis, such as the Sacramento campus. That would mean that the Davis campus had about 37,600 students last fall, or just 1,400 short of the 39,000 expected in 10 years from now. Enrollment grew 1.2 percent between fall 2018 and fall 2019. If that growth rate continues, UCD will easily exceed 39,000 students at the Davis campus well before 2030.

And despite UCD's highly touted recent construction, keep in mind that the under the LRDP, 52% of the projected 2030-31 enrollment of 39,000 will still need to find off-campus housing. That means that over 20,000 students will still be competing with working adults and families for affordable rental housing in Davis.

Finally, the data makes it clear that UCD failed to meet its past housing obligations, falling more than 1,800 beds short of the goal set in the Board of Regents student housing report issued in November 2002 and 1,400 short of the goal set in the 2003 LRDP. Unfortunately, the MOU among the City, County and UCD did nothing to hold UCD to account for those past failures.

Eileen Samitz

I greatly appreciate John's astute comments and questions, and Greg's excellent synopsis posted here as well. These posts cover the issue of how UCD continues to magnify the, what is still clearly, inadequate action by UCD to address the significant student housing crisis UCD has brought onto itself, and which continues to spill over onto our City and surrounding cities.

UCD has plenty of money to massive campus re-landscaping and undertaking yet another remodeling of its MU. However, UCD continues to avoid addressing the need for much higher density student housing on-campus like the other UC's are building to achieve at least 50% on campus student housing. It is inexcusable that UCD is the only UC campus NOT providing 50% on campus student housing given it massive land availability to providing this much needed student housing.

Furthermore, what about the Faculty and Staff housing it was supposed to provide? Still in stall mode as well, like the Orchard Park student housing project closed since 2014. Orchard Park will have been closed for 9 years by the time it is proposed to re-open 2023. How much more incompetent can UCD be with its lack of planning and implementation of its planning? Yet, it is building a new UCD Student Sports Performance Center in the blink of an eye, isn’t it? That enormous project was not even proposed in its recently adopted 2018 UCD LRDP, yet it is rapidly being built currently.

Yet, UCD has more land than any of the other UC's with over 5,300 acres and an enormous core-campus of over 900 acres which would allow far more on-campus student housing if UCD would practice which they teach, of BUILD UP, NOT OUT. UCD preaches sustainability but does not practice it.

There is NO student housing project on the UCD campus of at least 6 stories or more, yet the City approved a 6-story student housing project on Oxford Circle (i.e. Davis Live). So how is it that all the other UC's like UC Irvine and UC San Diego can build 6-story and 15-story student housing projects on-campus but not UCD?
UCD continues to dodge the on-campus student housing need issue and actually and adequately fixing the massive problem they have cause our community and its students.

UCD's negligence to build enough on-campus student housing, pushing 71% of its enormous campus student population (over 35,000 students) off campus for housing. In turn, UCD is pushing Davis' workforce and families out our City's own housing and causing increases in rents and housing costs.

UC needs new leadership now more than ever, of an administration which will actually deal with the problems that they are responsible for, instead of kicking the can down the road and deferring its student housing problem onto Davis and surrounding communities.


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