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Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Local co-op to remain in limbo until next year

The Davis City Council is holding off until next year to decide the fate of the Davis Area Cooperative Housing Association (DACHA), one of the several cooperative groups in the area.

On a 4-0-1 vote, with councilmember Stephen Souza abstaining, the council decided to give all interested parties 120 more days of public notice. The hearing for DACHA’s dissolution, or closure, is set to Feb. 7, 2012.

For the last two council meetings, members of DACHA have strongly voiced their support for dissolution. The dissolution would protect the members of the insolvent and foreclosed housing association from being forced to pay back loans to the city government, Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation and Neighborhood Partners.

David Thompson, president of the Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation, maintained his argument that dissolution cannot occur until all interested parties receive proper notification. Thompson claims that the City of Davis had neither notified him nor Neighborhood Partners of the impending public hearing.

The city staff and the majority of councilmembers decided that awarding the full 120 days would be the most expedient path to making a judgment on dissolution. Councilmembers worried that awarding an amount fewer than 120 days may result in extended litigation by Twin Pines.

By law, the City of Davis is required to give 120 days notice to all interested parties when dissolving a publicly funded entity.

Though the affirmation notification was indeed mailed to Thompson’s Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation office on F Street, the send-to address was listed as Twin Pines Cooperative Community. Such a community exists, said Thompson, except that organization is not his and resides in Santa Clara.

The address was correct besides the one word, but Thompson claimed not to have been properly notified.

“The confusion is that Twin Pines is an often used name [for an organization],” said Thompson in an interview before this week’s council meeting. “Why they chose to not send any notification to any interested party is really questionable. It’s more than questionable. It’s unreal.”

Mayor Pro-Tempore Rochelle Swanson admitted that many previous court rulings have been determined by one word. Given the precedent, the council was disinclined to challenge Thompson.

That said, Luke Watkins, president of the housing association Neighborhood Partners, was not notified at all. Since 2006, both Neighborhood Partners and Twin Pines have been involved in separate lawsuits against DACHA. Together, Watkins and Thompson’s organizations are responsible for handling just under 1000 properties.

“Simply put, DACHA is dead. It went into cardiac arrest when its accounts were levied, and it finally expired when its properties were foreclosed upon and sold at auction. It’s a corpse; it has nothing but liabilities and exists on paper only,” said Ethan Ireland, DACHA president, in an opening statement at last week’s council meeting.

According to DACHA by-laws, Ireland is not legally allowed to serve as board president, yet state laws prohibit him to resign until DACHA is dissolved. Despite, this limbo-like position Ireland and the rest of DACHA continue to spend a large amount of time and energy in fighting this legal battle.

“The alternative [to inaction] is to spend the rest of our lives in fiscal servitude to Thompson and Watkins for the crime of being low income families in Davis who, God forbid, want an affordable place to live in Davis,” continued Ireland last week.

DACHA members have complained that the efforts toward dissolution have resulted in expensive legal fees, emotional distress from debtors’ exams, and lost time for their work and families due to, among others things, court subpoenas.

Being unable to pay for legal advice, most DACHA members are also reluctant to speak more publicly on the issue for fear of a legal retaliation by Thompson. Ireland, however, is assisted by the pro-bono legal aid of attorney Elaine Roberts Musser.

If the council moves for dissolution, the decision would go to Attorney General Kamala Harris for the final judgment. In the meantime, DACHA residents continue to face an uncertain future.

RAMON SOLIS can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

EDITORS NOTE: In the Thursday, Sept. 29 print edition of The California Aggie, the headline incorrect read “Second Local co-op to remain in limbo until next year.” The online edition has been corrected. The Aggie regrets the error.


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