Senior Network Services and Meals on Wheels (MOW), which works out of Live Oaks to provide roughly 250,000 meals to older adults in the community, might need to find a new home sooner than expected.
The Live Oak School District (LOSD) Board of Trustees will discuss whether to move forward with the June eviction date tonight but is expected to uphold its decision.
The District and the Senior Center Organization jointly purchased the Live Oak property at 1777 Capitola Road in 2004. When the Senior Center disbanded in 2016, it turned over its claims to the buildings to LOSD, which has continued to rent the space to Meals on Wheels and Senior Network Services.
In 2018, the district announced plans to provide teacher housing on the property, hoping to help recruit and retain teachers. Initially, the idea was to create a mixed-use housing project that would include a space for MOW to provide services.
But in May 2022, the district announced an eviction date of Oct. 21 for MOW. The organization scrambled to find a replacement site, and in December, MOW was granted an extension through June 2023. The district has signaled it plans to remain committed to that date.
That leaves Community Bridges—the organization that runs MOW—less than four months to find a new site with the amenities it needs, including freezer space, a dining area and a commercial kitchen.
“We know this is not a permanent location,” Community Bridges CEO Ray Cancino says. “We know that we have not been wanted, yet I think there is a reality that we have only asked for one thing, which is more time. More time for us to make the right decision in choosing the right location and investing in the right program.”
At the time of its eviction, the district told Community Bridges the Senior Center needed roughly $500,000 in maintenance. Community Bridges responded with an estimate of its own for a little more than $100,000; they offered to foot that bill on the condition that the lease was extended for two years.
Cancino doesn’t understand why the district would move forward with plans to demolish the building without plans to develop the site. In addition, he says, Community Bridges has been negotiating with the district on the possibility of a mixed-use housing project that could include MOW.
“There is a long road ahead for them, from pre-approval to pre-development plans to assessment fees to the analysis that is needed that they haven’t even committed to doing,” he says. “I don’t think they even have the $300,000 for demolition.”
Community Bridges estimates that setting up in a temporary location would cost $180,000 per year for the next two years, leading to 18,000 fewer seniors they could serve.
Seniors Council Area Agency on Aging Executive Director Clay Kempf says that if the LOSD Board votes to move forward with the eviction, it would violate an agreement in Measure E, a $14.5 million bond measure approved in 2004 that allowed LOSD to purchase the property.
The language of that bond explicitly states that the funds would be used to keep Meals on Wheels running.
“To renege on that promise, not only does it affect those 18,000 meals per year, but it calls into question, do senior organizations want to partner with other parties going forward?” Kempf says. “It creates a real lack of trust which only harms all of us.”
Live Oak School District did not respond to Good Times’ request for comment.
Live Oak School District Board of Trustees Zoom Meeting is today at 6pm. losd.ca