Members of Zeta Beta Tau, Pi Kappa Alpha and the Inter-Fraternity Council said they were either already moved out, or in the process of moving out, when a city attorney announced at a Northridge city council meeting that the fraternities had to leave their homes.
“The city attorney took credit for kicking them out two months early,” said Joseph Yomtoubian, president of the IFC.
The fraternities were already scheduled to vacate by October, Zeta Beta Tau declining an offer to purchase the house and Pi Kappa Alpha members already in the process of moving out, Yomtoubian said.
The two adjacent properties on the corner of Halsted Street and Etiwanda Avenue were put up for sale by the landowner, the Lambda Chi Alpha Corporation, CSUN activities coordinator Jamison Keller said.
However, the homes were not designated to be fraternity houses because they failed to get ‘Conditional Use’ permits from the city, Keller said.
“There were 20 years worth of complaints” against the fraternity houses on Halsted, Keller said.
The biggest challenge for a fraternity house is the change in the leadership and residents, which constantly churns newcomers, keeping the fraternity members from building good rapport with neighbors, Keller said.
“They were trying to build up a case to kick us out,” 20-year-old Pi Kappa Alpha member Conor Lansdale said. The sophomore business information systems major and IFC board member said the house began banning people from entering the backyard of the house last spring because of neighbors’ complaints.
Sororities have fewer complaints from neighbors, Keller said. Because of the nationwide policy for dry sorority houses, there are fewer gatherings held at these locations, with sorority members resorting to partying at fraternity houses, most of which don’t have a no-alcohol policy. These circumstances reflect on the noise level and subsequent complaints from neighbors, he said.
“We don’t have a Greek Row like other schools,” Yomtoubian said, reiterating an oft-mentioned solution for the fraternity-neighbor problem. “(They) get a house and make it their own.”
A Greek Row on campus would accommodate chartered organizations with a residence in a section of the school where there would be less conflict with neighbors.
But Yomtoubian and Keller both said they don’t believe the fraternities necessarily want a Greek Row.
There have already been two attempts to establish a Greek Row on CSUN’s campus. Both failed on behalf of the organizations rather than school sabotage, Keller said.
During the late ’70s, hundreds of students went to the city council demanding zoning permission for a Greek Row, Keller said.
Because of poor planning for an approval from the city, many organizations failed to raise money for homes, relinquishing the opportunity for a Greek Row and forfeiting the multi-family housing zoning permits to apartment developers, Keller said.
On a second attempt during the early ’90s, the university offered the Greek organizations a large apartment building located on Lassen Street and Zelzah Avenue, that was previously used as a dormitory facility, Keller said.
The Greek organizations turned down the university’s offer because of the campus alcohol policy’s strict guidelines, Keller said.
That building was later torn down after it suffered damages during the ’94 Northridge Earthquake, Keller said.
President of Pi Kappa Alpha, Edgar Merino, 26, said that his fraternity is not in a hurry to find another residence because they’re searching for a prime location where they can “stay out of trouble.”
Although Pi Kappa Alpha hasn’t pursued getting a Greek Row included in Envision 2035, a plan for campus updates by the year 2035, Merino said he would be interested if the university helped financially to provide housing.
Merino said that it’s a shame the public focuses only on negative aspects of Greek life without seeing the positive. Strengthening relationships with the community is important for his fraternity, Merino said. This year he said he plans to get the word out about the constructive activities Pi Kappa Alpha wants to accomplish.
Offering to mow lawns and help keep neighborhoods safe, Merino said he wants his fraternity to be a positive influence in the community.
“No one thinks of the benefits of having eight guys living next door,” he said.
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