—By Lauri Barwick, an update of a 1991 article by Kathy King, with supplemental information from Chuck Hayward
Our community has grown tremendously in the last 12 years, and all of you are undoubtedly familiar with ICHA as the organization that sold or rented you a home in University Hills, and that manages our community. However, all of you may not be aware of the reason for ICHA's existence, or how ICHA's role has changed over the years.
This article, originally written by resident and former Newsletter editor Kathy King, describes ICHA's role in our community as well as its history and composition. Most of the material appeared in the October 1991 issue of the Newsletter. It is supplemented by additional information provided by Chuck Hayward, ICHA Executive Vice President.
ICHA was formed in 1983 as a nonprofit public benefit corporation and is tax-exempt under both federal and state laws. After careful consideration of the issue by the campus and the Office of the President, the Regents determined that creating a limited-purpose entity was a way to resolve UCl's severe housing problems. The lack of adequate housing opportunities in the Orange County area had undermined UCl's ability to recruit and retain highly qualified faculty and staff. After exploring other avenues to offer attractive, affordable housing and having no success, the university decided to try a new approach and ICHA was created to implement it.
The decision to create ICHA was based upon a number of factors, including a belief-which was supported by the reaction of local developers and construction companies-that to attract top quality residential builders to the campus it would be necessary to have one organization with which these companies might deal. Such an organization would take responsibility for resolving the unique issues associated with developing property owned by The Regents and would obtain all necessary project reviews and clearances. Streamlining the development process in this way could also be expected to decrease the price which builders might be expected to demand for servicing the campus.
There were other factors supporting the creation of such a corporation as ICHA: (1) The value of having a project development organization which would be sensitive to the unique needs and desires of members of the UCI community. (2) Provision of a less expensive alternative to a profit-taking intermediary by ICHA assuming responsibility for a number of functions that otherwise would fall to the developer itself.
(3) Provision of a useful buffer between the University/employer and resident!employee. (4) Provision of permanent and independent management for the entire term of the ground lease, unlike the case with a private developer.
In addition to authorizing the creation of ICHA, The Regents agreed to lease the land upon which University Hills is located to ICHA, and to defer the receipt of land rental. These actions made conveniently located land available at a minimum upfront cost, and were key to the success of University Hills. Under the approved ground lease, ICHA is authorized to sublease lots to individuals who qualify under a pre-established priority selection system, and to act as The Regents' agent in collecting land rent from individual homeowners.
ICHA's Articles of Incorporation set forth its purposes as "the development, provision, and maintenance of affordable housing and other related facilities and activities for the use and convenience of students, faculty, and employees of the University of California, in order to foster an active academic community and environment on the campus of the University of California, Irvine, and to attract and retain the highest quality students, faculty, and employees at the campus." University Hills represents ICHA's effort to fulfill these stated goals.
ICHA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
As a corporate entity, ICHA is governed by a Board of Directors appointed by the UCI Chancellor with the approval of the President of the University. A majority of the Board members are faculty member or senior administrators at UCI. The remaining Board members are friends of UCI and experienced business people. The Board is composed of a maximum of three outside members not employed by the University, at least five-but not more than six-members of the Academic Senate, with the remaining members being full-time administrative employees of the University; the President is an automatic appointee to the Board during his or her tenure in office. To ensure the continuing disinterested dedication of the Board to meeting the University-wide goals of the housing program, the number of appointees who are residents of University Hills is limited to a maximum of three.
The ICHA Board serves our community in a number of ways. Its most important role is to set policies to guide ICHA management in the implementation of the corporate mission to provide affordable housing and foster an academic community in residence. Moreover, as issues of community concern have arisen in recent years, the Board has been instrumental in maintaining a balance between the HRB and U. H. residents and the University.
The ICHA Board of Directors governs the corporation, but ICHA is managed on a day-to-day basis by its officers.
ICHA'S ONGOING ROLE
At present, ICHA fulfills several functions, among them:
- Community planning
- Lease administration
- New home development
- Community association management
- New home sales
- Landscape and facilities management
- Rental operations management
The community has benefited significantly in terms of cost-savings from ICHA's role as sublessor and community manager. In designating ICHA as its agent for the collection of land rent from homeowners, the university agreed to permit those monies to be used for ICHA's operating expenses. As a result, ICHA anticipates that it will be able to keep homeowner assessments at affordable levels while maintaining quality services. The same management team that works with the HRB also assists our two condominium homeowner associations. It should be noted that these two associations are not required to but rather choose to use ICHA as their association manager. ICHA has been able to economize on grounds ' management, maintenance and repairs through cross-training and utilization of small ICHA crews for services. For example, the same crew that handles Las Lomas maintenance often assists with condominium and U.H. common area repairs and improvements. Also, much of the minor refurbishment of resale houses is done by ICHA. Over the years, the community has saved a lot of money because of the economy of scale created by an in-house maintenance staff that services customers other than just Las Lomas apartments.
As the community has matured, ICHA's new home sales role has evolved to include resale assistance. This assistance is available to home sellers who choose it at a cost substantially lower than sellers' expenses in other Irvine communities. Using this service is completely voluntary. Homeowners may choose to handle the transactions themselves or retain an attorney or real estate broker in the community if they prefer. Finally, in its role as sublessor, ICHA "assists with the transfer of subleasehold interests in University Hills in accordance with the resale priority system and maximum resale price controls which The Regents established.
Since University Hills and its residents are part of the larger campus and University communities, issues of mutual concern will no doubt continue to arise. To this end, ICHA provides a vehicle of communication and represents an important buffer between the community and the university. Together with the Homeowner Representative Board (HRB), it presents community concerns to the university and negotiates solutions on behalf of the residents. ICHA also assists the HRB with community issues. This important interaction is only possible with the help of many community volunteers who take the time to develop consensus on issues, help resolve differences between neighbors, build community parks, plan festivities, and publish the Newsletter. ICHA management sincerely appreciates the assistance of the many volunteers and hopes they will continue with their efforts to maintain a high-quality neighborhood.