University of California and SCHA Collaborate to Renovate UC Davis ‘Domes’

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Just days before the Open House Warming marking completion of the newest housing cooperative in the City of Davis, Solar Community Housing Association (SCHA) has signed a contract to begin work renovating the Baggins End Innovative Housing at UC Davis – affectionately known as ‘The Domes.’ On October 11th, 2011, a License Agreement was signed between SCHA and the University of California, Davis which will pave the way for an anticipated five-year ground lease of the property and third-party management of the program.

Although the Domes, a local landmark in the Sustainable Research Area, is not ‘saved’ until the repairs have been completed and new residents have moved in, supporters are beginning to celebrate this small victory. This is the first formal agreement between SCHA and the UC, and demonstrates progress and commitment from both parties for continuity of the innovative housing program at UC Davis. Planning is already underway to coordinate volunteer and community efforts to renovate and renew the structures.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” said SCHA project manager Ben Pearl, “but we’re in the home stretch…we’re grateful for the University’s cooperation, and we look forward to working with the Davis community to re-open the Domes.”

In early January, the UC Davis Student Housing Office announced that they would not be renewing leases at the Baggins End Domes for the 2011-12 academic year or beyond. In the following months, a “Save the Domes” campaign saw a broad coalition form including Domes alumni, UC Davis faculty and students, and local community members. The ground-swell of support resulted in more than 1500 letters mailed to UCD administrators, an online petition that circulated, as well as a large public rally. In April, SCHA presented its proposal for short-term management of the property. Negotiations commenced, and on July 31st residents chose to peacefully vacate the Domes, placing trust in the good-faith negotiations underway between UC Davis and SCHA.

Once the ground lease between SCHA and UCD is secured, the next goal for the Domes will be a “Community Build” to be held November 3rd- 6th, 2011. This professionally-organized all-volunteer 4-day work party will accomplish the bulk of required repairs – including ADA compliance – under the supervision of licensed contractors. Members of the public who want to lend their support can sign up to volunteer, donate cash, food, and materials, as well as lend tools. Local businesses can also contribute; such as the Davis Food Co-op and Monticello Bistro, who have offered to help nourish volunteers. The event unites the broader community and encourages involvement and support for the future development of Baggins End, fondly dubbed ‘Domes 2.0’.

SCHA is well-poised to move the Baggins End Domes project forward, having successfully collaborated with the City of Davis and other local organizations to renovate two historic homes, bringing them up to LEED certification standards. “SCHA’s mission is to promote affordable, environmentally conscious cooperative housing in the City of Davis.” says SCHA board member, Jessy Schmidt, “We seek to increase education on these topics. The Domes project is a natural next step for us. Come to our Open House Warming this Saturday and ask us about it!” The public is invited to an Open House-Warming at the new co-op Saturday, October 15th from 2 – 6pm at 233/ 239 J St. in Davis.

As the first student-built co-housing in the United States with nearly a forty year history, Baggins End provides a truly unique opportunity for progressive development and innovative research in sustainability for the university, city, state, and even internationally. Interested community members are invited to sign up to volunteer for the Domes Community Build, online at http://www.bagginsend.org or by visiting the ‘Save the Domes’ table at the Davis Farmer’s Market.

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