Homeowner groups Thursday vowed to oppose any attempt by UCLA to build 250 faculty housing units on property north of Beverly Hills.
The groups made clear their opposition after a meeting of the homeowners, UCLA officials and Elliot Gottfurcht, an owner of the property, called Beverly Parks Estates.
At the meeting, UCLA officials outlined plans to buy 135 acres of the 320-acre site for the construction of 250 homes and condominiums for faculty members. The site is south of Mulholland Drive, between San Ysidro Drive and Coldwater Canyon Boulevard.
The proposal would more than triple the 80-unit limitation placed on the property in an agreement that Gottfurcht and homeowner groups--which fear overdevelopment and traffic congestion in canyon areas--signed three years ago.
The site, once known as the Teamsters Tract, has been the focus of controversy since three men, one a former building and safety commissioner, were indicted and pleaded guilty or were convicted in 1968 of bribery and kickback charges involving the development.
The current owners have no ties to the Teamster-financed development.
Jerry Daniels of the Hillside Federation, consisting of 43 homeowner groups in the Santa Monica Mountains, described the UCLA proposal as “surrealistic” and “so outrageous as to boggle the mind.”
“If we were told this was going to happen and it was put together as a cheap novel, it wouldn’t sell,” Daniels said.
Gerald Decter, a longtime critic of plans for the site, said that the proposal fits into a familiar pattern.
“We thought that the issue was settled once and for all three years ago when we signed the agreement,” Decter said. “Now, we have to contend with yet another proposal. It’s like Dracula. We are going to have to drive a stake through its heart before it is dead.”
Only one homeowner group, the San Ysidro Area Homeowners Assn., broke with other associations in at least raising the possibility of approving the UCLA proposal.
“If we can get certain guarantees,” said Judy Engel of the San Ysidro group, “we would not be against the proposal. The guarantees would involve no traffic down San Ysidro Drive. We also would be concerned about future plans for the property not sold to UCLA.”
Gottfurcht said that traffic to and from the project would use Mulholland Drive, not San Ysidro. And new housing units on the property would total 258, including the 250 proposed by UCLA and eight that he would build. The figures do not include the 18 parcels that Gottfurcht has sold or plans to sell.
Gottfurcht said that he was not discouraged by the phalanx of groups opposed to the project. “This is the first meeting,” he said. “The dialogue will continue. I do not believe you can draw any conclusions against the project based on one meeting.”
UCLA officials were not available for comment, but they were surprised by the depth of opposition to the proposal, according to Los Angeles City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, who set up the meeting in his district office.
“UCLA discovered the intensity of feeling on this proposal better than they could have determined in any other manner,” Yaroslavsky said. “I asked university officials after the meeting to mull over what was said to decide if there was any basis for continuing discussions.”
Yaroslavsky said that if Gottfurcht believes there will be future meetings on the project, then “Elliot is the quintessential eternal optimist.”
He said that homeowners are nearly unanimous “in their aversion to the proposal, and I would be too if I were in their situation.”
Yaroslavsky said that he hoped UCLA officials would abide by assurances they made to him that they will “fry their fish elsewhere” if they cannot reach agreement with residents over the plans.
“UCLA is made up of good people,” he said. “They are trying to solve a serious university problem, they are not out to make a buck.”
UCLA officials have stated that the proposal grew out of the university’s need to develop affordable housing on the Westside to continue to compete for faculty members with comparable institutions in other parts of the country where housing is not as expensive as it is in Southern California.
The housing would be built and sold at cost to the faculty members, who, when they sell the units, would be required to sell them to other faculty members.
Homeowners groups said they were concerned about the proposal because UCLA, as a state agency, is not bound by local zoning ordinances.