Bob Shallit

CADA gets go-ahead for more housing; Sacramento may have your unclaimed money

The 16 Powerhouse development at 16th and P streets, a CADA project, will include rental apartments and a new Magpie Cafe.
The 16 Powerhouse development at 16th and P streets, a CADA project, will include rental apartments and a new Magpie Cafe. aseng@sacbee.com

Capitol Area Development Authority could soon be building more downtown housing projects – thanks to an apparent decision by state officials to continue backing the Sacramento agency.

Four years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed selling off various holdings that CADA inherited when it was established in 1978. His thinking: During a time of budget shortfalls, why not raise millions by selling scores of apartment buildings and retail shops managed by CADA?

“The budget crisis was profound. It was a reasonable question to ask,” said Wendy Saunders, who became CADA’s executive director in 2013.

Since then, CADA has been in limbo. It has continued managing its properties, which are scattered over 42 blocks south of the Capitol. Roughly 25 percent are designated for lower-income renters.

Most significantly, CADA has led the central city’s housing resurgence, overseeing the construction of four big projects – the Warehouse Artist Lofts, Legado de Ravel, 16 Powerhouse and Eviva Midtown – that together will add almost 400 apartment units to the midtown/downtown core.

A plan by Saunders to create a nonprofit to assume the state’s role in governing CADA was proposed during last year’s legislative session but went nowhere. Limbo continued, preventing CADA from taking on any new big projects.

But now it appears the state has decided to remain a CADA partner. At least that’s the answer we got last week from the Department of General Services, the state’s property manager.

“While some discussion took place last year (about the state severing its ties with CADA), no further dialogue on the matter has occurred during the current legislative cycle,” spokesman Brian Ferguson said in an email. “Nor is any anticipated going forward.”

Ferguson added that DGS “looks forward” to working with CADA to advance “an active and vibrant neighborhood of state offices and residential units.”

That’s music to the ears of Saunders, who has identified three properties where she would like to develop new housing. They include: the parcel where Enterprise Rent-A-Car operates at the corner of 16th and N streets; the entire block bounded by 12th, 13th, N and O streets; and a parcel at the southwest corner of 14th and N. Together, those new projects could yield another 400 or so rental units.

Beyond that, Saunders would like to see the state review its Capitol Area Plan, last updated in 1997 – and identify areas now dedicated to surface parking that could be used instead for housing.

“Using (land) for parking just doesn’t make sense anymore,” Saunders said, citing the push toward transit-oriented development and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s goal of adding 10,000 housing units downtown. “There’s a higher and better use” for the land, she said.

Saunders feels some urgency to move ahead quickly on new projects while developers are clamoring to secure scarce lots for new infill housing.

“We feel like we have some momentum now,” she said. “It’s a good time (to build), and we shouldn’t squander it.”

Come get some city cash

Sac State professor and local government expert Peter Detwiler brought to our attention the city of Sacramento’s latest effort to clean up its books.

As it has for the past three years, the city recently published a list of people and businesses that have not claimed money due them. Some of the unclaimed funds are paychecks that were never cashed. Many are uncollected utility refunds.

All told, there are 1,433 names on the list. The total owed: about $177,000.

What got Detwiler’s attention were the identities of some of those on the list. The Twin Rivers School District police department, for instance, is owed $1,100. Some Sacramento County offices are there, raising the question of why nobody picked up a phone to notify them.

“Don’t these people talk to each other?” Detwiler asked.

He was amused, too, by one entity described only as “Stilettos and Steel Threads LLC.” It is owed $30.

Check out the full list at http://sacb.ee/37bl.

Under the system adopted three years ago, those on the list have until June 24 to file a claim for their money. Otherwise, the cash reverts to city coffers. That system is increasingly common among city governments, according to Russell Robertson, accounting manager with the city’s finance department.

Detwiler notes that there’s a “fancy legal term” – escheat – covering the reversion of property to government, and he couldn’t resist one dig at the city’s rush to turn liabilities into assets: “A less charitable person than me might say, ‘Escheaters never prosper.’”

Call The Bee’s Bob Shallit, (916) 321-1017.

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