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February 3, 2010 > Ad hoc task force for Decoto Family & Youth Resource Center

Ad hoc task force for Decoto Family & Youth Resource Center

By Shavon Walker

Additional information on a prospective youth center at Mission Boulevard and D Street, Union City, was presented to Council on January 26. The project was renamed the "Decoto Area Family & Youth Resource Center" to more accurately describe its function. Council also approved the creation of an ad hoc community task force to develop and provide recommendations for the center.

Vice Mayor Richard Valle and Councilmember Carol Dutra-Vernaci indicated their interest in serving on the proposed Task Force. The initial proposal is for 15 members from Congregations Organizing for Renewal (1), Filipino Advocates for Justice (1), New Haven Unified District School Board (2), Human Relations Commission (1), Youth Commission (1), Parks & Recreation Commission (1), community member at-large (1), youth members at-large (2), city staff - Deputy City Manager, Leisure Services Manager, Youth & Family Services Manager (3) and Council (2). It will take approximately two weeks to assemble the members. Council may make further appointments in lieu of, or in addition to, these proposals.

The Parks & Recreation Commission would chair the Task Force and the project would fall under the jurisdiction of Parks & Recreation, given the proposed facility's purpose. It was suggested the Parks & Recreation Commission report to Council monthly to determine progress and raise public awareness. Within the first 90 days, the Task Force will complete several goals which include touring between three and five Bay Area teen/youth/family centers, defining community needs for the Decoto facility and estimating associated costs. The Task Force will present to Council in early May.

The area is currently zoned for Retail Commercial and Private Institutional use. In other words, general commercial use would be allowed on the first floor and residential use for floors above. Private Institutional zoning allows institutions such as religious facilities or private schools to use the space.

In 2000, city staff attempted to work with the four property owners to create a unified development. A Unified Development Area was created by the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) Board a year later to ease the creation of parcels and solicit development proposals. At the time, the property was considered blighted due to the poor quality of the buildings and parcels. The Union City Action Network proposed building a church and community center but the property was later sold to the RDA. The other three property owners did the same shortly after. A youth center is the most recent suggestion for the site.

The project will definitely benefit the area and eliminate blight but, to date, there are no allocated funds to develop a teen center. However, alternative sources may be available, such as Measure WW East Bay Regional Park Bond funds, grant monies and future development fee revenues. Other sites are available, such as the Masonic Home Site, Barnard-White Middle School and former Fire Station 3.

In addition, the city's Five Year Implementation Plan would need amendment to allow for the specific creation of a youth center. Currently, it calls for mixed-use development, considered the highest and best use of the properties, along Mission Boulevard. For the General Plan to accommodate a youth center, the property would need to be re-designated and rezoned to Civic Facility. The process is likely to take about nine months.

Council unequivocally supports the idea of a youth center but financing the project is a major problem. Councilmember Carol Dutra-Vernaci informed Council on January 12 that there are no funds nor a rush to build the center.

"As a short term measure, we should extend the hours of the facilities we already have," she said.

Mayor Mark Green stated that he is also not "philosophically opposed" to building the center but wants to ensure all participants work together to find a solution.

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