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East Bay | Health, Housing, and Public Services

University Avenue Cooperative Homes to be leased for $1 dollar a year
by Lynda Carson (tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com)
Tuesday Oct 15th, 2013 7:30 AM
People will be allowed to speak for or against a proposed ordinance that allows the City of Berkeley to lease University Avenue Cooperative Homes to Resources for Community Development for as little as $1 (one dollar) a year for 55 years, in a 67 year ground lease agreement!
University Avenue Cooperative Homes to be leased for $1 dollar a year

By Lynda Carson - October 15, 2013

Berkeley - University Avenue Cooperative Homes (UACH) is to be leased to Resources for Community Development/UACH, LP, in a "ground lease" agreement with the City of Berkeley for only $1 (one dollar) a year for 55 years. The sweetheart deal will be voted on later this evening by the Berkeley City Council.

The $1 (one dollar) a year ground lease agreement for 55 years includes 13 residential buildings located downtown in the heart of Berkeley that have a total of 47 units of occupied residential housing, plus one commercial space at 1450 University Avenue. These are residential buildings that have 1, 2, and 3 bedroom apartments in them.

Item number one (No.1) on the Consent Calendar for tonight's 7:00 P.M., Berkeley City Council meeting titled "Ground Lease: UACH, LP for 1450 University Avenue ("University Avenue Cooperative Homes"), is to be voted on as a second reading of Ordinance No. 7,310-N.S. - - An ordinance that allows the City of Berkeley to lease UACH to Resources for Community Development (RCD) for only a dollar a year for 55 years, in a 67 year ground lease agreement. During the last 12 years of the 67 year ground lease agreement, RCD/UACH, LP, is required to pay fair market rent to the City of Berkeley.

UACH, LP, is an affiliate of Resources for Community Development (RCD) which is located at 2220 Oxford St., in Berkeley. The address for RCD and UACH, LP, are one and the same, and Daniel Sawislak who is the Executive Director of RCD, is also listed with the California Secretary of State as the Agent for Service of Process, for UACH, LP. The corporation papers for UACH, LP, were filed as recent as 08/05/2013.

Resources for Community Development (RCD) is a so-called affordable housing developer that hired the John Stewart Company to manage most or all of it's housing projects located in Berkeley, and the Bay Area. On it's website, RCD claims that they provide housing to 4,000 low-income people, and claim that they have developed over 1900 rental housing units since 1984.

Residents At UACH Are Concerned That They May Be Displaced From Their Housing

UACH was developed in 1981 as a limited equity housing cooperative. RCD gained control over UACH in 1999. Allegations of corruption and fraud have arisen at UACH after RCD took control. Despite the fact that the low-income residents of UACH have repeatedly been told through the years that they can take pride for being part owners of the limited equity housing cooperative, and have been required to pay monthly carrying charges instead of rent every month at UACH, the plan to convert the City owned property to a limited equity cooperative housing project was never completed, according to several residents of UACH.

Currently, RCD is planning to do a massive rehabilitation project that is estimated to cost around $15,745,508, or around $325,980 per unit at UACH, and is pressuring the residents to sign a new lease agreement. Some of the residents are afraid of being displaced and made homeless by the massive nearly $16 million rehab project that is expected to begin around the end of 2013 at UACH, after the 67 year ground lease agreement is signed with the City of Berkeley.

According to residents, one recent meeting was held in the community room of UACH on August 13, where RCD exerted their power and control over the tenants, while explaining the scope of the renovation plans. Around 40 UACH residents appeared at the meeting that included property manager Charles West of the John Stewart Company, and Alicia Klein of RCD. Additionally, the meeting was controlled in such a way that it was difficult for the tenants to have their questions answered, and when David Richman of Auto Temp arose to talk about plans to relocate the tenants from their housing, he had nothing to tell the residents.

Roitissa Davis is a long-time resident of UACH who plans to be at tonight's 7:00 P.M., council meeting, and said, "I think it's unfair and unreasonable for RCD to ask any of the residents here to move even temporarily, without an exit contract. RCD does not guarantee that the residents can move back into their apartments after the rehab project is finished, according to the new lease agreement that they want us to sign. The only guarantee that we are getting is that RCD wants us to move, or be relocated somewhere else before the huge rehab project begins."

The residents of UACH also say that Resources for Community Development (RCD) has weakened the Board of Directors at UACH. According to the residents, RCD says the 9 board members cannot operate as a board any longer, and RCD is currently in the process of dissolving the board.

Tonight's Berkeley City Council meeting is located in the Council Chambers at 2134 Martin King Jr. Way at 7:00 P.M., and people are being urged to arrive half an hour early to sign a speaker card if they have anything to say about the $1 (one dollar) a year ground lease agreement that lasts for 55 years. See item number one (No.1) on the Consent Calendar for tonight's council meeting titled "Ground Lease: UACH, LP for 1450 University Avenue ("University Avenue Cooperative Homes").

Click on the link below for tonight's Berkeley City Council meeting...


Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com