Aggie Square at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento

Isn’t this in Davis?

No, this is not happening in Davis, California. Aggie Square is planned for Sacramento, at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) Medical Center in Oak Park, with the possibility for additional off-campus developments nearby, also in Oak Park.

But isn’t there already an “Aggie Square” in Davis?

Yes, there is a residential living complex for UC Davis students already called “Aggie Square Apartments” in Davis. This is not that development, which is already built.

Ok, so what is Aggie Square?

Aggie Square is to be located at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. The plan is to develop 20 acres of campus property into additional research facilities and mixed-use development for students and employees of UC Davis. Aggie Square will include spaces for research, housing, dining, and businesses. It is UC Davis’ vision that Aggie Square fosters an environment that can advance the University’s academic programs as well as contribute to a strong, healthy community. Click here for UC Davis’ description of Aggie Square.

The Center for Regional Change (“the Center”) is a UC Davis research group housed within the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The Center is focused on building healthy, equitable, prosperous, and sustainable regions in California and beyond. They have compiled a report on Aggie Square that covers local challenges, opportunities, and potential community partnership models. Click here to view the Center for Regional Change’s report on Aggie Square.

How is ECOS involved?

The Environmental Council of Sacramento is a partner in the Community Development Action Team, one of six action teams under the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Sacramento Hub, funded by The California Endowment. The Community Development Action Team has identified the potential impacts of Aggie Square as a major concern for some of Sacramento’s most underserved communities. ECOS is grateful to be a part of this powerful coalition of social justice advocates, equity-focused organizations and community partners.

What are the concerns?

It is possible that Aggie Square can exacerbate gentrification in the Oak Park neighborhood, or it can lead to economic growth through increased opportunities for local residents. How do we invest in neighborhoods without displacing existing residents and local businesses?

Impacts of Gentrification

Gentrification [is] the influx of capital and higher-income, higher-educated residents into working-class neighborhoods.

Displacement occurs when housing or neighborhood conditions actually force moves…Displacement can be physical (as building conditions deteriorate) or economic (as costs rise). It might push households out, or it might prohibit them from moving in, called exclusionary displacement. Displacement, whether physical or economic, may result from disinvestment as well as investment.

From the Urban Displacement Project at the University of California, Berkeley

What are the environmental issues?

These social justice issues align with ECOS’ mission to achieve regional and community sustainability and a healthy environment for existing and future residents. In addition, sustainable growth is the only way our region can achieve our greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, as set by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG). We need to create neighborhoods in which people have the option to avoid driving a car in their daily lives. This means a sufficient amount of affordable housing in the urban core, where there will always be entry-level jobs at which employees do not make enough income to afford market-rate housing.

Furthermore, it is imperative that Aggie Square not exacerbate the gentrification of Oak Park in the City of Sacramento. The environmental movements of the past have failed to include people who are most oppressed in the United States, those who are poor and/or people of color. In John Muir’s day (late 1800s), National Parks were created but Indigenous Peoples were forced off of the lands first. In the 1960s, environmentalists succeeded in getting the federal government to pass several keystone environmental protection acts, such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, however segregation and racism ran rampant, and many people of color ended up in neighborhoods where the benefits of these acts were scarcely reaped. Today, research shows that you can determine how long the average person will live by that person’s residential zipcode. We cannot make these mistakes again. We all depend on clean air, clean water and a healthy planet on which human life can be sustained. We must lift up all people, or our planet will not survive.

Aggie Square updates

UC Davis is posting updates on Aggie Square here:

More about Displacement

Investment without Displacement, from ClimatePlan (Fact sheet)

Urban Displacement Project at the University of California, Berkeley

LA proposes putting ‘anti-displacement’ zones around luxury development, November 13, 2019
It’s aimed at helping renters in a one-mile radius around new buildings

Mayor Lee’s ‘jobs agenda’ made life worse for many San Franciscans, August 12, 2019
New study shows that attracting high-skilled tech jobs to cities in the name of creating jobs has a net negative impact on the working-class population.

Do low-skilled workers gain from high-tech employment growth? High-technology multipliers, employment and wages in Britain, November 2019
Low-skilled workers benefit from new employment, but average wages fall, particularly once housing costs are considered.

Nashville Major League Soccer Community Benefits Agreement

Another way to track gentrification and effects of gentrification through data: decreasing school enrollment.

Community Benefits Agreement

As detailed in the report by Center for Regional Change on Aggie Square, a Community Benefits Agreement would provide a legal promise to benefit the community in ways that residents and local business owners need most.

What is a Community Benefits Agreement?

CBAs are contractual agreements between represented community groups and developers that detail specific benefits a developer will provide to the community in exchange for public support of the proposed project. Common examples include changing elements of the project itself based on community feedback, dedicating a percentage of jobs and contracts to residents or other stakeholders, and funding projects such as affordable housing, public space, or youth programming.

From ShelterForce

To be continued…

This page will continue to be updated regularly, so check back for new information. Please contact us at office [at] ecosacramento [dot] net if you would like to be involved.

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