meals on wheels ray cancino community bridges live oak
Community Bridges CEO Ray Cancino (right) speaks about the impending eviction for Meals on Wheels and Senior Network Services in Live Oak during a press conference on Tuesday. Photo: Todd Guild/The Pajaronian

LIVE OAK—Officials from Meals on Wheels and Senior Network Services are asking the community to make its voice heard about an impending decision by the Live Oak School District (LOSD) to evict the organizations from the building they have called home for nearly five decades.

The LOSD Board of Trustees is set to discuss the issue Wednesday night. 

The District and the Senior Center Organization purchased the property at 1777 Capitola Road in Live Oak 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. 

But in 2018, the LOSD announced plans to create teacher housing on the property, reasoning that it would help recruit and retain teachers. 

The Oct. 21 eviction date forced the organization to scramble to find a replacement site, and LOSD in December gave MOW an extension through June. 

In an informational packet for the upcoming meeting, the district has signaled it plans to uphold that date.

“The Board has determined that the eviction notice will stand,” the District states. “No more funds, even from the non-profits organizations, should be used on a building which will be torn down.”

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,” says Community Bridges CEO Ray Cancino. “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, LOSD 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, and offered to foot that bill on the condition that the lease was extended for two years. 

Cancino questions why LOSD is moving forward with plans to demolish the building, despite having no immediate plans to develop the site. In addition, he says, Community Bridges has been negotiating with LOSD on the possibility of a mixed-use housing project that could include Meals on Wheels.

“There is actually 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, which he says would lead to 18,000 fewer seniors that 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, Kempf says, 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 really calls into question, do senior organizations want to partner with other parties going forward?” he says. “It creates a real lack of trust which only harms all of us.”

Live Oak School District did not respond to a request for comment.


If you go

What: Live Oak School District Board of Trustees meeting

When: 6pm, Wednesday Feb. 22

Where: Via Zoom. For information, click here.

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA.



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