Public Comment

An Open Letter to John Stewart Company and Resources for Community Development About University Avenue Cooperative Homes in Berkeley

By Linda Carson
Friday August 30, 2013 - 10:17:00 AM

This is my third request for an interview regarding the nearly $16 million proposed rehab project for University Avenue Cooperative Homes that places 47 households at risk of losing their housing.

I would be deeply disappointed if no one replied to the following questions below, which were originally were sent to the executives of the John Stewart Company and Resources for Community Development on August 27, 2013. 

Questions to Charles West of the John Stewart Company, and Resources for Community Development about UACH 

Charles West, the John Stewart Company property manager for the University Avenue Cooperative Homes (UACH).called me around 5:15 p.m. on August 26, 2013. He confirmed that he is a member of the UACH cooperative, and that he also resides at one of the properties of UACH in Berkeley. He also confirmed that he filed the original incorporation papers with the Secretary of State in California in 1980. But he was surprised to learn that the corporation (University Avenue Cooperative Homes, Inc.) was still listed as being active. 

Charles West declined to answer any questions regarding what has happened to the UACH ownership shares that belong to the residents of UACH. He stated that my questions should be answered by the corporate office spokesperson of the John Stewart Company, and that he was not allowed to speak with the press. 

I believe that UACH was created by the Consumers Cooperative of Berkeley. Around 1978 the Housing Task Force of the Consumers Cooperative formed UA Housing, Inc. UA Housing, Inc, was the parent organization UA Cooperative Homes. University Avenue Partnership (UAP) and UAH, Inc., owned/creeated UAHC and around 1978 and a 55 year old lease agreement was signed between UAP and the City of Berkeley after which the City of Berkeley will own both the land and capital improvements (the buildings) in the year 2036. The City of Berkeley through it's Redevelopment Agency loaned $616,000 to purchase the land. The City of Berkeley also gave $443,604 to UAH, Inc., in grant monies which were in turn loaned to the Partnership. 

Capital Management Strategies, formerly CRICO which has 99.99% ownership of the the Partnership and University Avenue Housing, Inc., has 0.1% ownership. UAH., Inc, acts as the acting manager of the complex. Capital Management Strategies acts on behalf of several investors involved in the financing of the development. 

Nearly an additional $900,000 was given to Resources for Community Development Corporation for a Nepa analysis for RCD to get some tax credits from the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee for the proposed $15,745,508 rehab project proposed to begin near the end of 2013. 

Questions to Charles West and the John Stewart Company 

1) How many years has Charles West been a manager/property manager at UACH? 

2) As a resident (2020 Sacramento St.) and member of the University Avenue Cooperative Homes (UACH), does Charles West have any ownership shares in UACH? 

3) What happened to the partnership that owned UACH, and what are the names of the main beneficiaries of the partnership that profited from the creation of UACH, including the John Stewart Company? 

4) What happened to the ownership shares and security deposits that belonged to the residents and members of UACH, including Charles West? 

5) When did Charles West or the John Stewart Company first realize that there was a problem that threatened the ownership shares of the households at UACH? 

6) What is the date that Resources for Community Development (RCD) took control and ownership of UACH, and how did that occur? What is the name of the person at RCD that contacted someone that works for the City of Berkeley, to initiate the takeover of UACH by RCD? Did someone at the City of Berkeley contact someone at RCD to ask if RCD was interested in taking over ownership of UACH, and if so what is the name of that person? 

7) With the takeover of UACH by Resources for Community Development, does the original 55 year lease agreement still exist whereby the UACH properties and capital improvements (buildings) are to revert back to the ownership of the City of Berkeley in 2036? 

8) How many existing households at UACH are expected to be displaced from their existing housing at UACH? 

9) How many existing households at UACH have members that are elderly, disabled, with children, or have an income lower than 30% of the local AMI? 

10) What is the average income of all the households currently residing at UACH, not including the income of Charles West of the John Stewart Company? 

11) Is the John Stewart Company or Resources for Community Development threatening the current households at UACH with eviction or harassment to go along with the proposed nearly $16 million rehab project expected to begin near the end of 2013? 

12) What is expected to occur to the residents or households that refuse to comply with the proposed rehab project at UACH, and decline to move out of their housing, or decline to sign a new lease agreement? 

13) When is Resources for Community Development (RCD) expected to return the nearly $900,000 in funding that was used for the Nepa analysis, back to the City of Berkeley now that RCD has enough money to do a nearly $16 million rehab project at UACH? 

14) Considering that many local rehab projects including the massive $35 million rehab project in Oakland occurring at the California Hotel which allows the current residents to keep their existing housing after the rehab project is over, why is Resources for Community Development forcing the current households at UACH to leave their existing housing with no guarantees that they will be allowed to return, during or after the proposed rehab project is completed? 

I look forward to a reply and an answer to my questions about UACH from the John Stewart Company and Resources for Community Development as soon as possible. 

Many thanks in advance... 

Sincerely, Lynda Carson