By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – The city has been looking at ways to revamp and repurpose the Pacifico property for several years now, following community complaints about nuisances on the current affordable housing site as well as the city’s own concerns about Yolo County Housing.
While the city put out a RFQ (request for quotes) to see what interest there would be, they declined to act on any of the proposals. Yolo County has now approached the city with a proposal to master lease the two vacant buildings for a CalWORKS Housing Support Program.
According to the county’s proposal, the units would be used as short-term—two to three month—housing units for CalWORKS families, “which will eliminate the costly and non-family friendly motels that the County currently utilizes for this population.”
This would enable the county to assist families “in quickly obtaining permanent housing and to provide wrap-around supports to families to foster housing retention.”
According to the county, “The program provides 100% State funding to local counties to assist homeless CalWORKs families with rent, bills, credit repair, home needs and just about anything else to stabilize a family in crisis. Recipients are also provided case management, food, medical, cash, childcare, education, mental health and substance abuse supports through regular CalWORKs (CW) program. Once the family is stable, the program assists them in attaining self-sufficiency.”
Currently the county has similar master lease programs in West Sacramento and Woodland, but does not have a location in Davis.
The county would do a five-year master lease which would enable them to fully utilize both of the vacant buildings.
This would generate “a stable source of revenue for the City to be able to put back into the property as a whole and to provide funding for other affordable housing/homelessness programs in the community.”
Currently, Pacifico is a city-owned affordable housing development. Two of the four buildings are currently vacant and have been vacant for the past decade. They require rehabilitation prior to occupancy. The remaining two buildings are rented to low income individuals/households.
When the Pacifico property was originally developed in 1999, it was to serve as affordable housing—a cooperative housing project aimed at students, with rents restricted. Ten years later, finding a lack of interest by UC Davis students and an unsustainable vacancy rate, the property was foreclosed and the city took ownership.
With the city in ownership, Yolo County Housing (YCH) took over the management of the property. Currently the project has 33 occupied rooms, residents are at the very to extremely low end of the income spectrum and many are at risk for homelessness.
According to staff, “YCH and the City both believe it is in the best interests of the City and the property if the City secure a new property management company. YCH has agreed to continue to manage the property through the end of this fiscal year or until the City can secure a new property management company, whichever is sooner.
“City staff concurs that continuing to utilize YCH for general property management is not in the best interests of any of the stakeholders: it takes YCH away from its core mission, it is expensive for the City, the neighbors have expressed frustration, and the residents are caught in the middle.”
In January, staff sought additional council direction on how to proceed with the search and selection of a qualified property management company for Pacifico.
One of the concerns was the cost of running Pacifico. The other was that two of the buildings required rehabilitation. One of the big advantages of this proposal is it actually provides revenue to the city, provides short-term housing for homeless families (one of the original designed uses) and better utilizes current vacant Pacifico Units.
While there have been considerable neighborhood concerns about the current use, staff characterized the response as mixed.
Some had concerns “about the proposal changing the character of the broader neighborhood and frustration about current residents and lack of oversight at Pacifico.”
However, “others were cautiously optimistic that the CalWorks proposal would fill a need and could be beneficial if managed appropriately.”
Neighbors expressed concerns about about traffic and additional people stemming from support services, as well as increased density on the site.
In addition staff writes: “While the majority of their concerns centered on current issues with their own living quarters, they asked whether the site was appropriate for children, particularly given the existing layout of the buildings; whether there would be adequate supervision, service provision, and maintenance with the proposed program; and whether the proposed use would take resources and attention away from addressing needs in the two occupied buildings.”
Staff points out the master lease “would provide a consistent revenue stream for the property, which would not only stabilize the finances of the property but could also be used to assist with maintenance and/or service needs for the other, currently occupied portion of the property, while maintaining very low rents.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting