The West Village site has not even been prepared for construction, and already hundreds of people are inquiring about living there.
Not everyone will get in: The project's first phase includes 292 single-family homes for faculty and staff, with the university's Resource Management and Planning unit estimating that the prices will be about 30 percent below market price for similar homes in Davis.
So, who will be moving in? The university appointed an ad hoc committee, including deans and staff representatives, to answer this question and more — and the committee's proposed policies were scheduled for release today for review and comment.
The committee recommends starting the selection process by assigning applicants to three priority pools. Lotteries within each pool would determine who gets to buy in West Village.
The committee also recommends putting a cap on resale prices, to keep West Village affordable for future faculty and staff. This is the same policy that is in effect at UC's Aggie Village, a 37-home development built in 1997, and it is similar to policies at faculty housing developments elsewhere in the UC system, and in the California State University system.
Comments on the draft policies for West Village are due by March 3. They will go to the committee, which is expected to release final policies in April, said Mary Hayakawa, director of real estate services for the university.
West Village, on 224 acres of vacant, UC Davis-owned land southwest of Highway 113 and Russell Boulevard, is the university's response to high housing costs and short supply in the city of Davis. The administration is counting on West Village to help with faculty and staff recruitment and retention.
"We are trying to serve people who want to part of the community here," Hayakawa said. "Part of what has always made UC Davis a great place to work is the opportunity to live in the college community."
A lawsuit by West Davis Neighbors fought the project on environmental grounds. The case got as far as the state's 1st District Court of Appeal, which ruled in the university's favor on Dec. 5. The neighbors had until Jan. 17 to appeal to the state Supreme Court, but did not do so.
Groundbreaking could be as early as this fall, Hayakawa said, with occupancy possible by the fall of 2008. The first phase also includes housing for about 1,800 students.
The proposed occupancy policy for faculty and staff housing specifies that people buying West Village homes must be full-time employees of UC Davis, including the Medical Center. They cannot own homes within the boundaries of the Davis Joint Unified School District, other than in Aggie Village.
The proposal describes what faculty and staff are eligible for each priority pool, and specifies how many homes are to be available to each pool.
- Aggie Pool — Ladder-rank faculty members who have been recently recruited, and staff members who have been recently recruited through national searches. The Aggie Pool also would include employees who already own homes in Aggie Village — to give these homeowners a chance to move to West Village. Number of homes: 145 (50 percent of the total).
- Mustang Pool — All other faculty, members of the Academic Federation, and all other staff. Number of homes: 80 (28 percent).
- Blue and Gold Pool — The same criteria as the Mustang Pool, but with financial conditions attached, so that the Blue and Gold homes — the lowest priced in West Village — would be reserved for qualified people with the lowest incomes. Number of homes: 65 (22 percent).
In recommending a cap on resale prices, the committee decided that the ability of the university to provide housing opportunities took precedence over investment opportunities.
Under the proposed policy, then, homeowners might not be able to realize all of the appreciation that they may have achieved in the open housing market. Instead, prices would be tied to the faculty salary index or the cost-of-living index, whichever was greater. For example, if you owned your home for five years, the price could go up a percentage equal to the cumulative increase in the faculty salary index or cost-of-living index over the same five-year period.
"Homes at West Village will enjoy a set and solid appreciation, but at lower levels than we experienced in the market in recent years," said John Yates, executive director of real estate services for UC Davis. "Conversely, West Village will offer a safe haven in down markets."
Hayakawa said the resale price cap is a tradeoff. "You get a great home in one of the best school districts in the state, a comparatively less expensive mortgage, and no commute. However, there is definitely an economic cost to consider. West Village will not meet everyone's needs in this respect."
Another plus, she said, is that many West Village homes, just like at Aggie Village, will come with rental cottages — and the rental revenue will at least partially offset what homeowners may give up in appreciated value.
When the first round of home sales is completed, the lottery list will become the waiting list for each pool, according to the proposal.
When a home is offered for resale, the first chance at purchasing it will go to people who already own homes in West Village. According to the draft proposal, this policy gives existing owners "some flexibility to make adjustments as their life circumstances change." For example, a growing family may need more room, or empty nesters might want to downscale.
West Village homeowners who leave UC employment would have six months to sell their homes. This is the same as the Aggie Village policy.
Someone who retires after at least 10 years of work at UC Davis would be allowed to keep his or her West Village home. With less than 10 years of service, the homeowner would have six months to sell at retirement.
The draft policy is available online, at the West Village Web site: www.westvillage.ucdavis.edu (click on Faculty/Staff Housing Web Site). Comments or questions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.