Comment: Davis is really not a bedroom community in the classic sense


By David M. Greenwald

Davis, CA – I was surprised by a question Matt Williams asked in my Monday column yesterday.

He wrote, “Here’s a question for Tim Keller … If Davis’ vision is to be a bedroom community for people who work outside the city limits, why does Davis need more R&D / commercial space? “

I would argue that this is a wrongly asked question. Davis really isn’t a bedroom community, and I don’t think most people would really imagine it becoming one.

The dictionary definition of the bedroom community: “A primarily residential town where most residents commute to a larger town for work. For example, many industrial workers may live in a small town outside of the town where the factory is located; You have to travel to work either by car or public transport every day. Bedroom communities generally have low intrinsic economics beyond retail stores for residents to use. They are often, but not always, suburbs. “

There’s a part of Davis that actually commutes to larger communities. Some will be sure to commute to Sacramento and others to the Bay Area.

But there’s one big problem with the concept of the bedroom community – by far the largest employer for people who live in Davis is UC Davis. And most of these people don’t commute out of town. even if UC is Davis technically outside the city limits.

Matt Williams argues that UC Davis is out of town. It is.

However, there is a separate concept of a bedroom community that is not included in the formal definition. A lack of community identity.

If you spend most of your life commuting out of town, working a ten-hour day, commuting back, and then having dinner and sleeping, you are generally not engaged in your community. That’s not really what Davis is.

Davis has an important identity both downtown and in the community. The residents actively participate in local activities, be it the schools, the farmers’ market, the city center or civic engagement.

In addition, while a significant portion of the population commutes out of town to work during the day (excluding UC Davis), on the other hand, a larger population actually commutes to Davis or UC Davis to work during daytime.

I would argue that instead of Davis as a bedroom community, Davis is a classic college town. It is a small to medium sized city. It doesn’t have a huge part-time employer, but the largest employer in the area is the university.

To illustrate why this is not a bedroom community, let’s take an extreme example. A college professor on Rice Lane gets on his bike or walks to campus on A Street, works there, and then walks or bike home at the end of the day. He’s technically leaving the city limits to work, but he’s maybe a block or two away. That’s not really what they have in mind for a bedroom community.

Rather than being a bedroom community, it seems to me that Davis suffers from two main problems – both of which are in his area that need to be addressed.

Firstly, the real problem isn’t that people commute to work from Davis, the real problem is that, according to the State of the City Report and the University Travel Survey, about 24,000 people commute to work outside of Davis while another 28,000 people commute each Day after Davis (and UC Davis) to work.

It’s not that people commute, the problem is the fundamental mismatch between living and working, which means that people who work in the city do not live in the city and vice versa.

This is also not a bedroom community. It is not a one-way migration, but a two-way migration.

Also embedded in Matt Williams’ question is a second point – why does Davis need more R&D and commercial space?

Is Matt Williams really giving up the notion of technology transfer?

A few years ago, then Chancellor Linda Katehi had the idea of ​​locating the World Food Center at the Railyards in Sacramento. Ultimately, the idea was shelved and probably scrapped. Part of the reason for this was the backlash from university faculty and staff who lived in Davis and didn’t want to move or commute to Sacramento.

But that concept goes well with Davis – harnessing the experimental and research-based technologies of food production and developing market-based products and technologies that can help feed the world.

When Barry Broome gives his talk, he likes to show UC Davis’ STEM potential, but also shows that it lags behind some of its research colleagues like the University of Wisconsin.

Many see UC Davis as a multi-billion dollar economy that has the potential to separate into private markets that can create jobs and new technology that can benefit the community.

But only if we have the laboratories and the infrastructure for it.

Ironically, Matt Williams’ question contemplates a self-reinforcing prophecy. Assuming Davis is a bedroom community, and therefore moving technology transfer to places like Woodland or Sacramento, it becomes a reinforcing prophecy, forcing people to commute out of town for jobs. Students who graduate from UC Davis settle in places like Woodland and Sacramento and take their immense talent with them.

This way you create something that represents a bedroom community much more closely.

But is that the ideal? Is there really anything at the regional or even local level in moving jobs away from UC Davis and into Woodland and Sacramento?

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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