Pacifico reconstruction remains uncertain

With Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed dismantling of redevelopment agencies across the state, the fate of Pacifico Student Housing Cooperative is unclear.

With Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed dismantling of redevelopment agencies across the state, the fate of Pacifico Student Housing Cooperative is unclear.

Pacifico, a four-building cooperative housing project in South Davis, has been serving students and low-income households since 2000. It is anticipating changes to its property funded by the City of Davis Redevelopment Agency (RDA).

The RDA supports the city’s affordable housing projects, with 20 percent of its budget set aside to fund current programs.

“The [RDA’s] financing capacity for the [affordable housing] programs currently is $7 million,” said Deputy City Manager Ken Hiatt at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “The future projects earmarked for construction at this time include … $2 million likely for the Pacifico renovation.”

However, the RDA has not been formally committed to fund this project.

Yolo County Housing (YCH) is working on the design for the cooperative’s rehabilitation.

Currently, the buildings have single and double rooms with all restrooms, kitchen facilities and living rooms as shared areas. According to a proposal brought to city council, YCH plans to do reconstruction on two of the buildings to create one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment units. YCH is planning on “improving construction quality and design” of the other two buildings, according to the proposal.

The housing units need the rehabilitation, said Joe Grijalva, a senior English major, who lived in Pacifico last year.

“Some of the buildings were pretty run down, and it frequently smelled like weed was wafting from someone else’s room into mine,” Grijalva said.

According to city staff reports, Pacifico has had problems finding tenants to fill its 112 units. It stopped paying its mortgage in Fall 2009.

“Basically when I signed a lease there, [management] didn’t say anything about facing foreclosure, even though I had heard about it from another tenant,” Grijalva said. “We received multiple foreclosure notices in the mail, although the management told us that the leases for the current year would be honored.”

The city purchased the property last year at $1.6 million to prevent a foreclosure. The city later awarded YCH with a contract to manage the housing project.

“In the last week I was there, we received notices from the city of Davis talking about a new management structure on top of what was already in place,” Grijalva said.

Since then, Pacifico has continued to have problems finding tenants. In March 2010, only half of the beds were rented out to tenants.

“I left because maintenance issues took forever to deal with,” Grijalva said. “My built-in light didn’t work and was not replaced until the week I left. Someone else’s internet cable was running through my room and the window wouldn’t stay open.”

The property again went into foreclosure in November 2010. Pacifico management could not be reached for comment.

Despite the fate of the foreclosure – and that of the RDA – the city continues to plan property renovations.

“The overall concern is that we are all committed to do affordable housing and help people in need,” said Councilmember Rochelle Swanson at the council meeting.

SARAHNI PECSON can be reached at city@theaggie.org.