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Davis, California

Monday, March 4, 2024

Producing measurable change


On Davis ballot: Measures H, I, J

Three proposed Davis ballot measures are set to appear on the June 5 General municipal ballot. The outcome of these elections and the fate of these ballots will have direct impacts on the livelihoods of UC Davis students as well as long-term Davis residents. Here’s a briefing of ballot measures H, I and J:

Measure H renews the existing $49 annual Park Maintenance Tax for an additional 20 years, adding on an annual 2 percent inflator. Revenue generated from the tax would be used to help sustain and improve a variety of parks and recreational public works projects including street trees, greenbelts, bike paths, public recreational facilities and urban wildlife and habitat. Measure H needs a two-thirds majority of votes in order to pass.

“Measure H will not change how much residents are paying, but it will upkeep the quality of parks that we have,” said Aaron Latta, a first-year transfer political science — public service major and chair of the Davis Housing Brigade of the Davis College Democrats. “What students can expect from it is [that] their roads will be repaired. You’re going to find that you’re going to be paying less in car repairs. You’re going to be able to bike around town a lot easier.”

Many students are in favor of Measure H, especially since they believe that the tax serves an important purpose without creating a significant dent in their wallets.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Rachel Wong, a first-year political science and economics double major and staff member for ASUCD Senator Alisha Hacker. “I don’t think $49 a year is too bad. I think maintenance is important.”

Measure I establishes a $99 Street and Bike Path Maintenance Tax on residential and non-residential units that would be used to fund the maintenance of streets, bike lanes and bike paths, sidewalks and other transportation-related infrastructure. The tax would be collected annually over a period of ten years. Like Measure H, Measure I would need to pass with a two-thirds majority.

Lauren DeCarlo, a fourth-year political science major, pointed out a possibility for adverse short-term effects arising from the implementation of the tax, namely due to the noisy and disruptive nature of the various street projects that the tax will fund.

“The construction of the roads would be detrimental,” DeCarlo said. “For example, they’re fixing the roads right in front of my house and we have to park three blocks from our house because we can’t get into our court. It’s loud, so it’s difficult to study at home. They start at like 7:45 in the morning and they usually stop around 4. If you’re trying to study at home during that day, that’s not possible.”

Despite these short-term negative repercussions, though, DeCarlo supports Measure I for the long-term improvements that it will bring to the city of Davis.

“I think safer roads outweigh the negative short-term effects of construction and the detriment of $99 per year,” DeCarlo said.

Measure J, arguably the most widely-known Davis ballot measure among the three, approves development for the Nishi Student Housing Project. If approved, the Nishi project would bring 2,200 single beds, housed in up to 700 rental apartment units, to the city of Davis. The Measure also specifies that a minimum of 330 beds are to be allocated for low-income students. Measure R, which was passed in 2000, requires that the rezoning of agricultural land must be decided on through a citywide ballot. Thus, the fate of the Nishi Student Housing Project falls into the hands of both UC Davis students and permanent Davis residents.

Unlike Measures H and I, passage of Measure J only requires a simple majority. ASUCD and the UC Davis Graduate Student Association (GSA) have recently approved resolutions in support of Measure J.

“Basically what I’ve heard about [Measure J] is that it’s going to be affordable housing mainly for students that go to Davis,” Wong said. “Right now, we have a really bad housing crisis, so it’s really important that we do get it passed. I believe we have a 0.2 percent vacancy rate, and it’s really hard for someone to apply for housing. UC Davis is accepting more [students] every year, but outside of the dorms there isn’t going to be enough housing for those students.”

Other students, however, reject the Nishi Student Housing Project for a variety of reasons. DeCarlo believes that approval of the project will inevitably lead to the commercialization and exploitation of Davis’ agricultural land.

“I’m against turning the Nishi land into housing,” DeCarlo said. “I think one of the staples of Davis is its agricultural land. You go to UCLA, and it’s so gentrified that you just have the school. Whereas in Davis, you have the school but then you [also] have this beautiful agricultural land. And it’s like a precedent — if you turn the land by Olive Drive into housing, it’ll  just open the doors to do that everywhere. I think for long-term Davis residents and for students who appreciate the beauty of Davis, it’s important not to turn that land into housing.”

Regardless of what positions students take on these issues, Latta believes that UC Davis students owe it to themselves, as well as to future students and communities who will be affected by the outcome of this election, to exercise their voting privileges.

“There have been students here in our positions since 1908 and there will be students here long after us,” Latta said. “We are a big part of this town, […] but the problem is that we don’t stick up for ourselves. The university doesn’t get a vote in city matters; they can’t watch our backs and they have no interest in watching our backs. The only people who can watch our backs is ourselves. By us voting in this election, we’re watching the backs of students five year down the road. That’s the kind of societal benefit that students should be thinking about when they’re voting. They’re not just voting for themselves. They’re voting for their children, for their children’s children, for their friends. It’s a civic duty.”



Written by: Emily Nguyen — features@theaggie.org


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