Neighbors of Pacifico affordable housing unit express concerns at City Council meeting

Neighbors of Pacifico affordable housing unit express concerns at City Council meeting

Photo Credits: VENOOS MOSHAYEDI / AGGIE

City Council reconsiders plans surrounding Pacifico, including creation of mental health facility

The Feb. 19 City Council meeting featured a discussion of the current state of the Pacifico Housing Property located in South Davis. The city staff provided a report on the historical background of Pacifico and the issues that it currently faces. After long public commentary from people who live in the same neighbourhood as Pacifico, the council remained uncertain about the future of Pacifico.

Pacifico is an affordable housing unit jointly owned by Davis and Yolo County Housing. It’s located at the end of Drew Circle and connected to the Putah Creek bike path.  The average annual income for Pacifico residents is $8,400, which, according to the city’s staff report, is 15 percent of the median income in Davis. Students make up 6 percent of the demographics, and disabled residents make up 34 percent.

Originally, Pacifico was designed as a 112-bed cooperative housing development for students. Due to lack of student interest to live at the property and the physical layout of the property, Pacifico went into foreclosure in 2011.

The city talked about how it could be reopened, and YCH then took over management operations from the Center for Cooperative Development. By 2015, the property was at full occupancy again for the two open buildings. However, only around 40 beds are in use.

In 2012, YCH and Davis entered into an agreement to create a plan to redevelop the two vacant buildings. In 2018, the County approached YCH to use these buildings for community needs, such as a mental health center.

The development is structured similarly to a residence hall. Each floor features communal kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms, along with single and double rooms. The city and the county are also both in charge of managing and rehabilitating the units. While the property has four buildings in total, only two of them are in use. Part of the goal of the council meetings was to review potential uses for the vacant buildings. One of the current plans that the council is looking at is to make Pacifico a mental health facility.

Pacifico counted toward Davis’ required Regional Housing Needs Allocation numbers, which were assigned by the California government. Despite two of the buildings being closed, the city counts those beds toward meeting the affordability requirement.

During the public comment portion, many residents from South Davis raised concerns about the current state of Pacifico and the bike path that leads to it. According to the staff report, there were 560 calls for service within the areas surrounding Pacifico from October 2017 to October 2018. Of these calls, 101 were from Pacifico. According to the residents, the Putah Creek bike path has become unsafe.

“We had quite a good turnout of folks who came out [to various different public meetings in South Davis], and I just wanted to acknowledge and recognize the frustration that neighbors have been experiencing in this area,” said city manager Mike Webb. “That’s part of what tonight’s about — to provide an opportunity to recognize those frustrations as continued dialogue — and I think that’s how we see it.”

Webb said that the area around Pacifico will be up for discussion and that the managers at Pacifico have taken some steps to engage in helping alleviate problems that may stem from Pacifico.

“It’s a continued dialogue moving forward,” Webb said. “There has been some initial further understanding of some of the issues here, [but] there’s more to be understood. There’s more to be discussed.”

Council member Lucas Frerichs and Mayor Pro Tempore Gloria Partida have been to some of the community meetings and have heard from the residents of South Davis.

“There’s no question that we’re taking this issue seriously,” Frerichs said. “Residents have asked for this item to be agendized. We’re doing that. Gloria and I attended the public meeting at Montgomery Elementary School on Jan. 10 […] we were very happy to attend and listen to discussions and stuff and talk to a number of neighbours about additional efforts at the council to discuss these issues.”

The council members seem to agree that they should reconsider their current plans of making the vacant buildings in Pacifico an in-patient mental health facility.

“I’m glad that the council is taking a proactive approach here,” said council member Will Arnold. “We’re taking this order holistically. The issues of homelessness are very much connected to the issues being experienced at Pacifico for better or for worse.[…] I agree with my colleagues that we need to take a fresh look at the use here and, frankly, we have an opportunity to do so.”

Written by: Hannan Waliullah — city@theaggie.org