Community Bridges Submits Letter of Intent to Purchase Live Oak Senior Center to Preserve Local Essential Senior Services Programs 

February 15, 2024 — Santa Cruz County, CA — Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz County, a program of Community Bridges, today announced it has submitted a letter of intent to the Live Oak School District to purchase the Elena Baskin Live Oak Senior Center for $2.4 million to ensure continued operations of essential older adult services at the historic 1777 Capitola Road location.

In addition to the proposed purchase agreement, Community Bridges would offer the Live Oak School District an option to purchase a nearby property primed for affordable housing construction, keeping the school district’s long-held goal of developing a teacher housing project intact. The revenue from the purchase, including the $800,000 downpayment, would help the district resolve its current budget deficit and further stave off County Office of Education intervention, which is the interim step to State Acquisition and control.

The deal would also resolve a long-standing issue over the future use of the Senior Center, allowing the continuation of senior services provided by Senior Network Services and Community Bridges as part of the Area Agency on Aging’s local network of services.

“School districts across California are facing severe budget crises as the birth rate continues to plummet and cost of living continues to skyrocket, forcing families to leave for more affordable enclaves,” Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino said. “This deal would not only preserve critical older adult services but allow the Live Oak School District to continue the development of its workforce housing project and stop planned layoffs that hurt local teachers, students, classified staff, schools, and, ultimately, the community.”

Live Oak Senior Center has been home to Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz County and Senior Network Services since the 1970s, highlighting a key infrastructure piece of senior services in Santa Cruz County by providing a centralized location for vital services for older adults. Meals on Wheels provides daily meals for about 800 older adults, and Senior Network Services helps connect seniors with a range of services, such as housing and medical care.

The property’s future has been in limbo for years. In late 2018, Live Oak School District informed Community Bridges that it sought to rethink the use of the property for workforce housing. Three times, Meals on Wheels and Senior Network Service have been given eviction dates, and both have operated at the Live Oak Senior Center on month-to-month leases while working with the Live Oak School District on the terms of a two-year lease extension that would benefit all involved.

Recently, Community Bridges and Live Oak School District made progress toward potentially selling the Live Oak Senior Center if an alternate location for the school district’s workforce housing project could be found. Community Bridges has identified a nearby site that could accommodate up to 37 teacher housing units. Currently, the property is seeking entitlements for 15 single-family units with 15 Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

“We want to work quickly with the Live Oak School District to ensure our organizations can meet the needs of seniors and educators, all of whom face challenges to live and thrive in this region. Creating two supportive spaces in the Live Oak community would be an outstanding outcome,” Cancino said.

The Live Oak Senior Center has served as the primary kitchen and distribution center for Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz County since 1977 and allows Meals on Wheels to follow its mission of serving local older adults nutritious meals. Last year, Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz County distributed roughly 250,000 meals to older adults, many of them homebound and living below the poverty line.

Background

Since its inception, the Elena Baskin Live Oak Senior Center, named after the late local philanthropist and senior service advocate Elena Baskin, has been an irreplaceable hub for our community’s older adults, and it is identified as such in the local Area Plan on Aging. Baskin envisioned preserving and expanding this central location in Live Oak, and the community rallied around this vision with the approval of Measure E in 2004, a $14.5 million bond measure benefiting Live Oak School District.

Preservation of the Senior Center was included in the official ballot argument for Measure E, signed by Bruce McPherson, John Laird, and Jack O’Neill, among others. Without Measure E, the argument reads, “The Senior Center will lose its lease and be forced to close.”

“Allowing the Senior Center to close, which supports many valuable programs like Meals on Wheels, Senior Network, and the Alzheimer’s Association would be a loss to the entire community. If the District buys this land, the Senior Center will remain open,” the argument reads.

The County of Santa Cruz originally acquired the property for $3,315,000. The County then sold the Senior Center to Live Oak School District for $2,225,000 to ensure older adult-serving programs would remain active at the site.

About Community Bridges

Community Bridges envisions a thriving community where every person has the opportunity to unleash their full potential. Together, our family of programs delivers essential services, provides equitable access to resources, and advocates for health and dignity across every stage of life. To learn more, please visit communitybridges.org.

The Community Bridges family of programs includes the Child & Adult Care Food Program, Early Education Division, Women, Infants and Children (WIC), La Manzana Community Resources, Live Oak Community Resources, Mountain Community Resources, Nueva Vista Community Resources, Elderday Adult Day Health Care, Lift Line and Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz County.

About Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz County 

Since 1976, Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz County, a program of Community Bridges, has served nearly 10 million meals to 75,000 local seniors in need. Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz County serves 1,600 seniors in need each year with nutritious meals and caring human contact. The tireless work of this program—supported by a dedicated army of 70 volunteers—allows thousands of Santa Cruz County residents to remain healthy, safe, and independent in their own homes.

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