City, Coast Guard looking at housing options again

By Laura Hoffmeister on August 21, 2017

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) owns 58 acres along Olivera Road containing 328 multi-family units that were formerly used for military personnel.

The housing was constructed in two parts: the 1950s era Quinault Village of 41 duplexes that were not built to existing code and have asbestos and lead based paint and the 1980s Victory Village with 82 triplexes not built to current code and main utilities under the units rather than in the street. Salvage or reuse of the existing buildings is not feasible, given that the buildings and utilities would need to be brought up to current construction codes.

In 2014, the USGC indicated the housing was no longer needed. They showed willingness to negotiate a sale with the city. The city would select a development partner, and the developer would loan the city the land payment fee. The benefit to the city and its partner is an agreement on the development and value of the property, allowing coordinated planning with the other base reuse specific planning that is underway.

This process can avoid the bidding auction process that could result in a sale at an inflated price, which could lead to the purchaser’s development ideas being beyond a reasonable level and less flexibility to achieve the city’s goals for the property.

The city obtained four firms qualifications as a development partner: Bridge Housing, DeNova Homes/ROEM, Integral Housing /EAH Housing and USA Properties/Foundation for Affordable Housing/Eden Housing. The USCG then put the process on hold, and the City Council never reviewed the options.

In mid-May 2017, the Coast Guard decided they were ready to proceed with disposing of the property. The Housing and Economic Development Committee recently met and is recommending that the city proceed with a negotiated sale with one of the four development partners. The City Council will consider it at a September public meeting.

Meanwhile, the city recently completed a new tot lot at Meadow Homes Park, with an area for 2- to 5-year-olds and 5- to 12-year-olds. This park was one of the last parks to receive a tot lot.

Improvements are also underway at Ellis Lake Park. A new restroom building is completed; a tot lot, path lighting and railing sections in select areas near the pond are underway.

At Civic Center, the tot lot is being replaced with newer play equipment. Ellis Lake and Civic Center tot lots are planned to be completed this fall.

The city has installed new Historic Todos Santos District street signs downtown, using restricted funds. In the past, the city required developers to pay an “Art in Public Places” fee. Replacing aging street signs with the “historic” style signs is an acceptable use of these funds.

These signs begin fulfilling the comprehensive vision for the downtown area, which includes development guidelines that reflect early California design and architecture. Under the new guidelines, all new development within an inner core of the downtown will resemble early California design, as will newly installed or replacement of park benches, streetlights and signage.

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