Why UC Davis could have new housing for 3,200 students, and some aren’t happy

Student housing in Davis generates its own energy using rooftop solar panels.
Student housing in Davis generates its own energy using rooftop solar panels.

The University of California Board of Regents approved plans to build a new student housing project at the UC Davis West Village complex, university officials said.

The development will aim to build housing for more than 3,200 students to “accommodate growth for graduate programs and transfer students,” said UC Davis spokesperson Andy Fell.

Not all parties involved are excited about the development, though. Newly elected Davis city councilman Dan Carson said that he and other city members – on behalf of the city of Davis – asked the regents to delay the vote to seek additional analysis into the impact of university growth.

“We generally support the plan and the provisions in the plan that add student housing on campus, the problem is that the California Environmental Quality Act requires that the applicant, in this case the university, has a legal obligation to mitigate the impact of growth,” Carson said.

Some of the issues the city of Davis is concerned about include housing, traffic, parking, city services and infrastructure and other aspects that would affect quality of life in the city of Davis, according to Carson.

“The city is looking to raise some issues of concern about which the City Council feels strongly,” said Mayor Brett Lee in a news release Wednesday. “We want to make sure that university growth is adequately planned.”

Despite this, regents also approved UC Davis’ Long Range Development Plan in addition to the housing project, according to a university news release. The plan includes building academic and administrative space, as well as housing for up to 9,050 students.

The goal of the Long Range Development Plan, Fell said, is to help grow graduate programs and research opportunities at UC Davis.

West Village is an existing housing project on campus, and construction will begin this year next to the existing buildings. Half of the project is expected to be complete by 2020, the release said, with a final completion date of 2021.

Estimated cost of the project was not immediately available.

UC Davis Chancellor Gary May asked the city for annual town meetings to discuss “areas of mutual interest” and an annual joint housing report between the city and the university, according to the release. This was a win for the city of Davis, Carson said.

“We want to reach an agreement with the university,” Carson said. “The next step will be for our city council and city manager and attorney to sit down and discuss what the next step is for the city of Davis.”