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Ripon selling its 7 vacant homes at below market

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POSTED December 20, 2013 12:20 a.m.

Seven houses made possible by the former Ripon Redevelopment Agency will soon be up for sale.

At last Tuesday’s Ripon City Council meeting, elected leaders, who also serve on the RDA Successor Agency, agreed to let the vacant homes go on the market as affordable housing.

“They were made available to Ripon as affordable housing. I think we should sell them as intended – as affordable housing,” said Councilman Leo Zuber, who indicated that these homes also be owner occupied.

Staff recommended putting the houses at 309 Second Street, 317 Second Street, 327 Second Street, 232 S. Acacia Avenue, 1238 S. Highland Avenue, 1333 Cameron Lane, and 1673 Fair Oaks Court at fair market value.

“Fair market could be less of a burden on the city,” Deputy City Attorney Stacy Henderson said.

In which case, she noted that sales of the homes under fair market value could go into an established Housing Asset Fund account, specifically, for affordable housing.

By going the affordable housing route, the City of Ripon could run the risk of having to make up the difference between fair market value of the homes and the below market rate at which they were sold. That’s if the State of California opts to maximize the revenue generated from the sales of these homes.

As for risk, staff and legal counsel believes that to be minimal under this option since one of the state’s main objectives is to provide affordable housing. The property tax paid by affordable units are based on the below market rate and are less than those of comparable market rate units.

Council also had the option of doing nothing and letting the houses sit vacant. Currently, the City foots the bill for yard services at these homes at $360 per month via the general fund.

“No matter what we do it will be risky,” Zuber said.

Since September, the Successor Agency has been trying to figure out what to do with the homes since the RDA was dissolved over a year ago as part of the 2011 Budget Act.

Ripon Realtors expressed interest in selling of these vacant homes back then. They would’ve agreed to the certain terms for the sales that called for conducting a lottery to determine which realtors would sell each home if not for pending litigation from the state.

But in October, Gov. Brown paved the way for cities such as Ripon to move forward by vetoing that litigation.

“We need to sell the homes, one way or another,” Vice Mayor Elden ‘Red’ Nutt.

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