Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Soul-searching after DACHA settlement

From page A6 | January 15, 2013 |

It was with great interest and grave concern that I read the Jan. 10 Davis Enterprise article “DACHA settlement reached.” The words that gave me pause were from a co-owner of Neighborhood Partners, DACHA’s original developer. The co-owner was quoted as saying, “I think we’re glad to have been able to reach a settlement with the city … I (would) look forward to the opportunity to work with the city again …”

It should also be noted the city’s press release on the DACHA settlement states “To facilitate the settlement and future policy discussions of affordable housing in Davis, the parties agree to resolve this matter amicably and not to disparage each other about DACHA or continue to rehash the issues that led to these lawsuits … However, the parties will remain able to participate in policy discussions related to affordable housing and cooperative housing and to discuss DACHA on a ‘looking forward’ and ‘lessons learned’ policy basis.”

The DACHA debacle has had a long and ugly record of disastrous events. As a lawyer and consumer advocate involved in the case, I would hate to think history might repeat itself. But if a hard look is not taken at the respective roles played and actions taken primarily by the developers, as well as the city and DACHA members, accompanied by necessary change, we will likely be in for similar catastrophes in the future. This will be inevitable if there are insufficient procedural modifications in how city business is conducted.

The emotional and financial toll this case has taken on individual DACHA members has been immense. They will never have much faith in our court system, the city’s affordable housing program or cooperatives again. Many times I was asked by them: “How could this happen in America?”

Some very profound and honest soul-searching by developers and the city will have to take place, so a repeat of the DACHA debacle never happens again. There has to be a willingness to put the consumer first and foremost. After all, it is the consumer who is the least experienced and most vulnerable in the equation.

Elaine Roberts Musser



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