Updated: Jan 26, 2021
By now you may have heard about the huge “innovative ecosystem” development project UC Davis will break ground on in the new year called Aggie Square. Anchoring both the Oak Park and Tahoe Park neighborhoods, Aggie Square is slated to bring thousands of construction jobs to the region and the first phase is projected to have an ongoing economic impact as high as $3.1 billon. That number is expected to grow as the additional phases of the project are implemented. City Council voted in October to establish an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District in a targeted area near the Aggie Square project which will result in even more financial benefits.
Much of what we hear when the Aggie square project is discussed are the financial benefits to UC Davis and Wexford Science and Technology, and the City who all gain as a result of the project. When the Aggie Square project was announced two years ago community based organizations began asking how residents benefit from such a large development. Over the last year and a half, Sacramento Investment Without Displacement (SIWD), a collaborative organization consisting of community based organizations and residents, have been demanding that UC Davis and Wexford enter into a legally binding Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) to ensure issues impacting residents such as access to jobs, transportation, health care, environmental and housing will be incorporated and accountability measures put in place.
Sacramento’s housing crisis has resulted in a growing number of displaced families and increasing numbers of people unhoused and living on the streets or in vacant lots. Aggie Square is a game-changing innovative project happening in one our most vulnerable communities. It is imperative that the current residents benefit from such development and not get pushed out due to increased housing and rental costs, lack of access to higher paying jobs and poor air quality as a result of this project.
Community voices are speaking out and demanding that both the UC Davis and the City work with the community and enter into a CBA with SIWD as a signer as well to ensure the community is always represented. They cannot pursue the Community Benefits Agreement and keep out the community of residents and CBO’s that have been fighting for this CBA all this time. We need true engagement and accountability.
Major investments in all of our communities that have long been ignored must happen in order for significant improvements to occur. But this cannot happen at the expense of those who are most vulnerable. UC Davis, Wexford and the City must work directly with SIWD and community organizations to design real mitigations which protect the homes and stability of current residents, written into a Community Benefit Agreement that puts the needs of those who will be impacted the greatest and most harmed in the forefront. When ALL residents benefit from growth and investments, the entire City benefits.