With Vista La Verne and the Campus Center exceeding the City of La Verne’s height restriction, the city implemented additional fees, or taxes, to the University of La Verne to pay for fire and other public services required for these buildings.
Since both buildings exceed the City’s height restriction of 35 feet – Vista is 48 feet and the Campus Center is 56 feet – ULV is required to pay a special Community Facilities District assessment to the La Verne Fire Department, said Chip West, senior director of central services and capital planning for ULV.
In the 2011-2012 property tax bill, West said ULV paid an additional $25,930 for the assessment of the Campus Center.
“This assessment goes to pay for of course fire access, training and equipment needed in case of emergencies,” West said.
That assessment does not include Vista for that time frame since it just opened about three weeks ago. West said that this assessment goes not only to the LVFD but other departments such as public works, which checks on necessities, such as how much water these two buildings need, whether it is for a fire or basic utilities.
Avo Kechichian, ULV vice president and treasurer, said the assessment is an operating budget item. The University is charged 50 cents for every square foot of the buildings – Campus Center is approximately 40,000 square feet and Vista is approximately 100,000 square feet. The money comes out of the University’s operating budgets for both buildings. Parts of this is funded by the students, Kechichian said.
“The room rates paid by Vista residents funds the (Community Facilities District) assessment for the residence hall,” Kechichian said. “The tuition and fees paid by all students fund the operating expenditures of the University, including the (CFD) assessment for the Campus Center.”
Since the beginning, the city, the La Verne Fire Department and other departments reviewed construction, from the architectural plans to walking in the building to check for hazards. Whenever they spotted a potential hazard, the plan had to be revised again if ULV wishes to build these buildings.
“We walked the (city officials) and the LVFD through the building,” West said. “We make sure they have not missed anything.”
La Verne Interim Fire Chief Pete Jankowski said he and the city first looked at the goal, understanding why ULV wishes to have a building that exceeds the city limit. He knows that President Devorah Lieberman’s goal is to expand ULV but La Verne is limited in space as it is.
“This city is only 9.2 square miles wide,” Jankowski said. “The only way for them to expand is to go up.”
Clive Houston-Brown, associate vice president of facility and technology services, said one problem that came up was that the LVFD equipment was only able to go a certain height, making it difficult for them to assist in an emergency higher than 35 feet.
However, with the additional money being funded to the LVFD, Jankowski is confident that his firefighters will be there if the worst should happen.
If the LVFD needs extra assistance, Jankowski said other fire departments such as LA County and neighboring cities will be called to help them.
One equipment that West believes will be beneficial for the LVFD is installing E-911 on all of the telephones in ULV. This upgrade also works for the La Verne Police Department.
“Whenever someone calls for an emergency, E-911 will tell the LVFD what address you are calling from, what building and what room number,” West said.
Besides additional funding for equipment, Jankowski said the LVFD performs morning drills at the back of the Campus Center to familiarize them with the building if they were called for an emergency.
“No one realizes the work behind the scenes,” West said. “It is an important, complex process.”
Alex Forbess can be reach at email@example.com.