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Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Domes and third party present proposal to save community

In light of the UC Davis administration’s decision that the Domes would not be offering any new leases for next year, a group of students and community organizers have submitted a proposal to Student Housing with alternative plans for the property’s future.

The proposal suggests that the Solar Community Housing Association (SCHA), a non-profit cooperative housing organization, could step in as a third party management group and lease the Domes property from the university for the next five years.

“They would take over the responsibilities of everything associated with providing cooperative housing to people,” said Frank Loge, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. “That would include things like making sure the property and landscape is maintained, the structures are safe, the space is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, collect rent and provide basic maintenance of the structures.”? The Domes, which were built in 1972, make up a sustainable living community of 14 structures located on campus. After an intensive round of inspections, Student Housing deemed that the structures were unsafe and did not meet ADA regulations. Both the administration and the residents agree that the best plan of action is to rebuild the structures, which would take approximately five years. ? The proposal suggests that SCHA oversee repairs of the current Domes, which residents estimate would cost $50,000, much less than Student Housing’s original estimate of $900,000. ? The SCHA and students presented the new proposal to Student Housing last Wednesday. Ramona Hernandez, associate director of Student Housing, said the meeting went well and that Student Housing is looking to continue conversations about the future of the Domes. ? “The students provided a very good informative presentation that summarized the details of the proposal for the group and the administrators provided an initial reaction to the proposal, which included outlining some of the challenges of engaging the campus in what would be considered a third party lease agreement,” Hernandez said. ? However, Hernandez said that they still had a lot to work on before Student Housing can accept the proposal.? “Until we can get the safety and structural terms addressed and identified with the [proposed] arrangement, there’s no way we can accept the lease that’s being offered,” Hernandez said. ? Furthermore, Hernandez said that there are many legal and financial requirements that the proposal must meet before the administration can accept it. This legal work could take up to a year to finish. ? Hernandez said that Student Housing is planning on officially responding to the proposal within the next few weeks. ? Veronica Pardo, graduate student and Domes resident, said that residents and students are willing to work with administration for the best solution. ? “We do want to continue working with the administration because we value this space and we want to continue to see it used for students by students. If that means that for one year we’re not occupying the space, then we need to be using the space for something else,” Pardo said. ? Pardo highlighted the importance of students using the space in some way while decisions are being made, and suggested the Domes space be used for classrooms. Hernandez said that Student Housing was willing to work with them to use the Domes if no one is living in them. ? “We’ve offered to create a memorandum of understanding with student organizations for continued use of that space, so we are preceding with the assumption that they plan to form a registered student agreement,” Hernandez said. ? The Domes has been a center for sustainable living and learning for many years, and the residents have contributed many community projects to Davis, including the Davis Bike Collective, the Davis Farmers’ Market and the Davis Food Co-op. ? “The Domes attract a very unique group of people to the UC Davis campus and those people tend to make a very positive impact not only to the local community but wherever they end up in their life,” Loge said. ? Pardo highlighted the fact that people involved in the Domes were willing to work hard to make sure they were habitable for a very long time. ? “Our goal is to be on the property, and continue to be on that property for the next hundred years,” Pardo said.

HANNAH STRUMWASSER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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