Facing calls by a handful of neighbors to level Pacifico and rebuild from scratch, the council instead took the more modest step of calling for an RFP (Request for Proposal) and waiting before designating target populations until they see what comes back. In the meantime, they have named Lucas Frerichs and Gloria Partida to a subcommittee on the matter.
Councilmember Dan Carson said that, as custodians of public dollars, “We have an obligation through an RFI [Request for Information] to see if we can fix this place.”
He noted the long and significant efforts that have already been made to try to address the real concerns of the neighbors.
“I’d like to see what we can do with this process,” he said. “We’ll know at the end of that RFI if it’s going to be productive or not.”
Councilmember Lucas Frerichs said that the council needed to address the safety issues, acknowledging that not all of them were coming from Pacifico – noting the people camping on the greenbelt and in the creek bed.
“I do support the notion of an RFP, I think that’s something we should be doing,” he said. “I’d be willing to provide some direction in terms of target populations… But I think that I don’t want to have a preconceived notion, there are folks that may come forward…”
Councilmember Frerichs said that the residential facility was still something he had interest in. “I think the 16 units are something we need in this community,” he said. “However, the navigation center, I’m not sure that’s the appropriate location in the community. Particularly since it’s not central to other services available in this community.”
He thought it would be better closer to the center of the city, with the county center and other existing services being located nearby.
Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Partida favored making the immediate changes.
“The only real solution that (neighbors) are feeling is that they be removed,” the mayor pro tem stated. “That’s not really a viable solution.”
She said, “There’s no spaces available to take those vouchers and when there are spaces, no one will take them.” She said that “there’s really not a whole lot of other places they will go, so they will end up in the ditch behind Pacifico – I think that’s a worse situation for people who are experiencing challenges with this population already.”
On that basis, she felt the interim changes are “probably as good as we are going to get for the moment.”
Like her colleagues, she did not want to limit the population at this time. Although, she said, “I think this is probably not a good place for seniors.”
She also noted that she looked back at some web-based rating services and many people were really unhappy with the location when there were students living there.
Gloria Partida felt that the residential treatment center would be appropriate, but felt that the navigation center would be better situated near A Street with existing facilities.
“I don’t think we need to necessarily consider that,” she said.
Councilmember Will Arnold started by saying, “I guess on I’m the nail on the coffin on the navigation center in this location. I think it’s just a bad location for it. You should not need navigation to get to a navigation center.”
He said this is an important service – which we need, but not in this location.
“I’m interested in seeing where we can move forward with something like that,” he said.
The councilmember also pushed back on a number of comments made by the public.
To those who argued against the fence, he pointed out that he lived in a house with a fence, “because I have a reasonable expectation of privacy where I live.”
He said, “The idea that we’re going to come out here and say fences aren’t necessary, these folks don’t deserve a fence, they shouldn’t have any privacy, I ought to be able to look in and see what they’re doing because they’re a menace – that doesn’t fly with me.”
Will Arnold also noted that, while he can afford not to live in a place like Pacifico, and he lived in a place “not unlike Pacifico” in college in Eugene, “would I want to live in a place like that today? No.” “Did I think it was uninhabitable?” he asked, “just because it’s not the way you would want to live, doesn’t mean it’s uninhabitable.”
He said when he spoke to residents they said, while they aren’t that crazy about the configuration, their main concern is “they’re very happy to have a roof over their heads.”
He said one of his beefs with his tenure on the council is with “the hyperbole that gets used when what we’re trying to say (is) we can do better by folks… but instead we say it’s uninhabitable.”
Will Arnold said this is not a place that’s uninhabitable, but it is a place if you can afford not to, you might not want to live there.
He noted, “Nishi is 330 affordable beds at maximum occupancy, Pacifico was about a third of that – it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.”
Councilmember Arnold agreed with his colleagues about not narrowly targeting populations. “I’m somewhat reticent about narrowing our scope about who we deem necessary to live at Pacifico,” he said.
He noted that one of the issues people might be experiencing is that “this is a really deep affordability place. These are folks that are one step away from homelessness.”
He said, “If we limited it to students, or veterans, or seniors or other folks – that’s great for those folks… but if you don’t check one of those boxes, now all of sudden there’s another place you’re not allowed to live.”
Councilmember Arnold said, “That’s not good for those folks whose alternative is Putah Creek.”
Mayor Brett Lee said he changed his mind about targeting the population and is open to looking at the RFP first and seeing what proposals come forward.
He said, “This property has a history and very valid near-neighbor concerns.” He wants to see what applicants will come up with.
Brett Lee noted the new units coming online at places like Creekside and said, “I think the current residents would be taken care of and have a more suitable location. The idea here is not to throw anyone out on the street.”
“We have a lot of different groups that are struggling with housing,” he said. He said in the RFP they would need to specify at least 87 units – as required by RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Allocation) – of either low or very low income. He believes with an RFP that would be taken care of.
The council was clearly willing to look into new populations and to see what proposals come forward. At this point they did not go as far as the neighbors to support demolition.
—David M. Greenwald reporting