Foreclosure, theft, rundown buildings and resident discontent have plagued South Davis’ Pacifico Student Housing Cooperative in recent years. Property managers are working to turn this trend around with new regulations and remodels.
The City of Davis bought Pacifico in 2010 for $1.6 million to prevent a foreclosure. Yolo County Housing (YCH) signed a contract with the city to manage the co-op and officially took over in mid-July. The new manager, Jose Alvarez, has been undergoing training for the position for the past few weeks and has been living on site.
Jason Snyder, who received a Ph.D. in geography from UC Davis, moved into Pacifico in 2007. Feeling dissatisfied with co-op, he moved out this fall.
“When I first heard about Pacifico, I thought it was a nice arrangement because my house [the B unit] was designated for [graduate] students; I was excited to live with people under similar circumstances as me,” Snyder said. “Things started turning bad during December 2007 though. There was a lot of drug usage going on with some residents, as well as harassment, fights, theft and I even suspected one resident of poisoning my food.”
Snyder said he believes these disruptive residents were symptoms of the management not regulating who was coming in.
He said the situation began improving last year, but soon took a turn for the worse again. He also said the management’s mandatory chore schedule required too much time from residents.
“I think if management brought in the right people [residents], making it more student friendly, Pacifico has a lot of potential,” Snyder said.
Two of the four buildings on the property are currently empty — with the A and B units closed and the C and D buildings open. In total, the four units have the capacity to house 112 residents.
With 53 rooms available now, 12 rooms are occupied and 41 are available for rent, according to Danielle Foster, the housing and human services superintendent for the city.
Lisa A. Baker, executive director at YCH, said YCH’s long term plan is to rehabilitate the buildings. The property’s contract with the county requires the managers to house nine foster care children.
“With the multifamily housing situation, we want to make sure we have a safe, good community,” Baker said. “Several people have moved out of Pacifico in the last couple of weeks if they weren’t abiding by their contracts.”
Baker said she is actively seeking people to fill the vacancies in the co-op.
A couple weeks ago, management changed residents’ keys, so that they can only enter their own units. She said this key control is essential for a good community.
Though management said it has been trying to make changes to the co-op, some still have seen recent issues at the location.
One resident, who chose to remain unnamed, said this past summer another resident stole a laptop from management and set off fire extinguishers. The source also said there were public fights between residents which management let get out of control.
Alexandra Ramirez, a Mexican exchange student to UC Davis working on her masters degree in plant biotechnology, has lived in the D unit since September and was initially drawn to the co-op when she viewed its website.
“I wanted to move out when I first got to Pacifico because it was under my expectations,” Ramirez said. “It was a mess. People were stealing food. In the first two weeks the police came five times because of troubled residents.”
Ramirez said the co-op has improved recently, mostly because those causing problems were evicted.
“Would I recommend Pacifico to others? That’s hard to say,” she said. “Things were traumatic, but it’s gotten a lot better.”
ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.