Professors at University Heights dispute CSUF Housing Authority at Fullerton City Council meeting

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The Fullerton City Council heard from multiple Cal State Fullerton professors dissatisfied with negotiations on University Heights. JESSICA PINEDA / Daily Titan
The Fullerton City Council heard from multiple Cal State Fullerton professors dissatisfied with negotiations on University Heights.
JESSICA PINEDA / Daily Titan

Several Cal State Fullerton professors who reside in University Heights townhouses urged the Fullerton City Council to give more time to a debate on the University Heights Specific Plan during the council’s meeting Tuesday.

If the council approves the proposed resolution to amend the plan, CSUF Housing Authority would be authorized to sell its interest in University Heights to a new owner.

In a 3-0 vote with two abstentions, the council voted to continue the debate to their Dec. 3 meeting.

The University Heights Specific Plan was approved in April 2005, allowing townhouse properties to be built for CSUF staff and faculty.

CSUF Auxiliary Services Corporation (ASC), which officially owns the property, sent a request to the council to amend the plan earlier this year.

Professors cited issues with how the housing authority handled negotiations with them and other homeowners.

Mayor Pro Tem Doug Chaffee said, from his understanding, the city council’s approval would be a moot point without the current 15 homeowners and the housing authority agreeing to new terms.

All 15 existing homeowners signed an agreement on Sunday, said CSUF Housing Authority and ASC Executive Director Frank Mumford. However, he said those documents made an error regarding the conditions that would allow the current residents to create a homeowners association.

As a result, the authority notified the homeowners and sent a revised final offer Tuesday afternoon.

“We will provide them additional time to respond, but our offer will not change,” Mumford said. “For that reason, we would ask that you go ahead and make a decision on our proposed amendment tonight. We really don’t have any additional concessions to offer, so further continuance of this item will really not enhance negotiations.”

Jessie Peissig, a homeowner at University Heights and professor of psychology, said the housing authority has not negotiated in good faith.

“These are not negotiating techniques that you use with people that you are trying to come to a resolution with,” she said. “I really would urge the council to help us be able to come to a good resolution by giving us time to actually read what they give us.”

University Heights residents asked the council to continue the public hearing on the resolution, and said they preferred the council would consider the issue even later than Dec. 3.

“The language there is rife with inconsistencies and differences,” said Marcia Clark, a finance professor and University Heights resident. “We cannot move forward with documentation which is inaccurate and sloppy, and that’s what we’ve been faced with all this time with those very short deadlines as we’ve described.”

Bruce Peotter, an attorney representing University Heights residents, said creating a homeowners association is necessary for his clients to have adequate legal protection if the housing authority sells the property to a new owner.

“In the CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions) themselves, there’s nothing set up to cause a homeowners association, when certain events occur, to come into play,” Peotter said. A homeowners association is “there to protect the existing homeowners that are there.”

Peissig expressed concern over the possibility that the housing authority may have made other changes to its revised offers.

“I don’t know if they snuck anything new in here,” she said. “We just don’t feel like we’re having the opportunity to research things, to carefully weigh the options, to really understand what we’re agreeing to.”

Chaffee made a motion to continue the public hearing session about University Heights to Dec. 17.

“I would entertain a longer continuance, if that’s appropriate,” Chaffee said. “The next meeting after the third would be the 17th; maybe we can all have a Christmas present and get this done.”

Chaffee’s motion died without a second. The council ultimately chose to continue the hearing on Dec. 3.

“Well, it’s not that I do not support your sentiment, Mr. Chaffee,” Councilmember Jan Flory said. “It’s just that I think we need to keep this on the front burner.”

After the vote, Mayor Bruce Whitaker wished good luck to all parties involved in their future negotiations and said the council would look forward to seeing them at their next meeting.

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