What the UC & NIMBYs Have In Common

note: this is more of a late night venting than an intentional blog. 

Episodically, during my 10 years as a UC brat, I’ve heard it basically said that “students graduate in four, six years… but the faculty & administration will spend the rest of their lives here… so we must prioritize labs, monuments & offices… but not the demands of students… like on campus affordable housing.”  It has a certain logic to it.
Off Campus, at least here in Davis, you will hear actually hear landlords say–quite bluntly– “students only live here for 4 years and then move on. Home owners spend the rest of their lives here. So we should only listen to home owners.”  It also has a certain logic to it.

Two sides of the same coin.

Here’s a comment by a Davis landlord on the competing views of students and home owners over a development that recently passed:


Implicit in this statement is the idea that the value of your opinion in “citizen planning” (something Davis pats itself on the back for having) is proportional to how long you will be staying in said community.  We have a vacancy  crisis (0.3% vacancy rate).  We have students sleeping in cars.  And apparently this should be discounted because this is a “short term” need… (it’s not, UC Davis will be around another few years probably, but the individuals in crisis will only be our problem for a few years so their needs should be ignored, or so the commenter thinks…)

The logic unravels when you find out most of the NIMBY homeowners in Davis are only in Davis because they were UC Davis students or staff at one point.  But let’s look beyond college town dynamics…

Here are my questions for someone defending this kind of thinking anywhere in California (or anywhere period, for that matter):

  1. Does this mean we should value a farm-worker’s voice at 1/2 a home owner’s, since farm-workers only live here seasonally?  Same logic, applied to a different population…
  2. Since out of state students may plan to move back home, should California ban them from voting in our state? Same logic, same population…
  3. The chronically homeless are impermanent everywhere–should they be ignored everywhere? Same logic, overlapping populations…

And then I realize that this landlord gets what she wants most of the time in terms of power dynamic… and she’s complaining because this time the home owners didn’t get everything the wanted (admittedly, the home owners most impacted  for this particular projects are lower income themselves… which also tells you a lot about Davis!)  And come to think of it, its a retirement community.  So this landlord gets what she wants in a sense:  If “the rest of your life” in the community is the weight of the value of your voice, then of course the seniors get stuck with the “undesirables!”  The grotesqueness of it all comes full circle. I’m exhausted now.

Thanks for listening.  This was a rant. Not a thoughtful blog.  But I had to put this on paper because the logic people use to rationalize their exclusionary politics is quite frustrating.


Published by mattdpalm

Doctoral Student UC Davis USDOT Graduate Eisenhower Fellow 2014-2015

2 thoughts on “What the UC & NIMBYs Have In Common

  1. Just wondering — how many of the Davis homeowners are also landlords (assuming with properties other than the one they live in) to the student population, and what is the condition of their rentals? I remember most of the Santa Cruz student rentals being sub-par, to be polite. How would the both owner/landlord dynamic in Davis play out?


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