Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Two Cal-Northridge Fraternities Evicted

Two CSUN frat houses ordered vacated
BY ANGIE VALENCIA and CONNIE LLANOS, Staff Writers
LA Daily News

NORTHRIDGE - The city has ordered members of two off-campus CSUN fraternity houses to pack up and leave, ending a decades-long effort by neighbors to dislodge the sometimes-rowdy residents from the neighborhood.

Over the years, the Zeta Beta Tau and Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity houses on Halsted Street have been cited for disruptions and code violations. For more than 25 years, neighbors complained to city and university officials, trying to resolve the problem. Last month, the Safe Neighborhoods Division of the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office informed the Northridge East Neighborhood Council that the houses would be empty by the end of this month.

"Sometimes justice moves slow," said Anthony-Paul Diaz, a prosecutor in the Safe Neighborhoods division. "It's a good example that if you stick to something, it can have a positive resolution."

Members of the fraternities could not be reached for comment.

"What we're feeling now is a sense of justice," said Kelly Lord, Northridge East Neighborhood Council president, who lives two blocks away from the houses. "We were concerned the neighborhood was going downhill."

The homes, which were being rented out by the Greek organizations, are up for sale. On Friday, beer cans littered the overgrown lawns and junk was piled in the front yards.

Upset neighbors said they put up with rowdy parties, traffic, fights and gutters filled with fast-food wrappers, beer bottles and condoms on their streets for far too long.

"We didn't want a precedent that you can open a frat house anywhere," said neighbor Steve Patel. "It was a hard and long battle."

This isn't the first time the city has intervened to shut down a fraternity house. In 2002, members of Pi Kappa Phi were kicked out of the house they had occupied in the 17800 block of Parthenia Street.

Jamison Keller, the Greek life adviser at California State University, Northridge, said in the eight years he's been advising fraternities at CSUN, he has not had one quiet Monday. The university has no jurisdiction over the fraternities when they are off campus, but the school does have a code of ethics that all student organizations must adhere to.

"We tell them to be respectful and good neighbors," Keller said.

"But for many of these students, it's the first time they are away from home. There is a bunch of them living away from home, and at 18 or 20 years old, their concept of noise is a lot different than what their neighbors hope it to be."

CSUN, unlike most colleges including University of California, Los Angeles, and University of Southern California, does not have a Greek row, a street of fraternity houses. Jamison said that over the years, the fraternities have made numerous attempts at creating a Greek center for the campus, which has more than 40 different fraternities and sororities, but to no avail.

Roya Saberzadeh, designer at Rochie's Greek Row, a shop selling university and fraternity and sorority merchandise, said she felt that CSUN and the surrounding community have always been "anti-Greek."

"But the kids who join the Greek organizations are very spirited," Saberzadeh said. "They are very much involved with all aspects of college life. They run for office and they are big philanthropists."

Two CSUN frat houses ordered vacated