The California State University system has spent an average of $21,880 per year, per home on maintenance of 10 presidential homes over five years, much more than virtually all American homeowners who responded to a national housing survey.
Already under fire for spending $2 million on renovations to these residences in the last decade, CSU also reported spending an additional $1,006,000 on maintenance and repairs since 2007-08 on university-owned presidential homes.
The figure includes spending on houses for CSU Chancellor Charles Reed and presidents at CSU Dominguez Hills, CSU Fresno, CSU Fullerton, CSU Long Beach, CSU Monterey Bay, CSU Northridge, San Diego State University, San Jose State University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
CSU has faced criticism for its spending on executive compensation and upgrades to university-provided presidential residences, especially because the system has experienced draconian budget cuts, prompting layoffs and decreases in enrollment.
Help us do more.
With a few exceptions, most of the CSU campuses with university-owned homes could not keep their monthly maintenance budget within range of the typical American homeowner.
In the 2009 American Housing Survey [PDF] for the United States, 94 percent of homeowners who responded to the survey reported spending $199 or less per month on routine home maintenance, a category that includes painting, fixing water pipes, replacing parts of large equipment, repairing fences and other activities.
On average, the CSU campuses spent $1,823 per month.
Aside from a roof repair at the SJSU president's house this past year, other maintenance activities at the presidential homes generally fit into the definition of routine maintenance used by the American Housing Survey. The survey is conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Census Bureau.
Michael Uhlenkamp, spokesman for the CSU system, said several of the properties are more than 50 years old, making them more expensive to maintain.
"The fact that they’re also used for hosting large-scale events – sometimes as often as weekly – would also mean that more repairs or maintenance would be appropriate than for a private home," Uhlenkamp said in an e-mail.
Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, who has been critical of CSU spending on executive pay and other perks, said that argument doesn't wash.
"CSU continues to want to have Taj Mahals for their top executives and bungalows for our students," Yee said. "The reality is that these facilities are primarily homes and to do the renovations and to maintain them at such high amounts is just extravagance beyond any imagination of the regular people of California."
Roughly 39 percent of the funding in the last five years for maintenance at the 10 presidential homes came from non-state sources, such as donations or revenue from university auxiliary operations.
The funding for annual maintenance to Chancellor Reed's Long Beach home, for example, comes from a trust established with the proceeds of the sale of the previous chancellor's residence, a house in Los Angeles' Bel Air neighborhood that was donated to the university in 1972.
But Yee argued that even the non-state funding could be spent differently, with an eye toward students.
"I bet you that most individuals, if not all donors, would go ahead and say, 'We will adjust the terms of the donation just to allow for a period of time until California’s economy rebounds and the state has enough money to handle the student needs,' " Yee said.
SJSU, which provides President Mohammad Qayoumi with a 4,500-square-foot house near the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, reported spending an average of about $46,500 per year on maintenance. State funding covered the last two years of expenses; before that, revenues from the Spartan Shops footed the bill.
Part of the high price tag this past year can be explained by a $47,000 replacement of the roof and balcony flooring.
On average, SJSU pays $5,000 per year for housecleaning, $4,300 for landscaping and gardening, and $900 for carpet and upholstery cleaning. In 2008-09, officials spruced up the home with a $21,300 paint job and new $10,300 master bedroom closet.
The San Jose figures also include an average of $8,200 per year to cover cable, Internet, garbage, water, gas and electric bills. The campus president picks up 20 percent of the monthly tab for these costs, said Patricia Harris, an SJSU spokeswoman.
The university covers the bulk of utilities and service expenses because the house is used heavily for university business, Harris said. The house hosts eight to 10 events per month, on average. Harris also said reliable phone and Internet connections would prove critical in emergency situations.
Landscaping proves to be one of the more expensive maintenance expenditures for presidential residences. It was the priciest line item on the list of expenditures at CSU Long Beach's Miller House, where the landscaping bill totaled $23,400 in 2010-11. At the CSU system chancellor's house, also in Long Beach, lawn work and tree trimming cost $14,300 last year.
In a few cases, campuses kept their maintenance spending on presidential homes at less than $200 per month, according to figures provided by the university. CSU Northridge reported spending $40.86 for the entire year in 2008-09 for maintenance of the four-bedroom suburban presidential residence.
Here's a look at five years of spending on annual maintenance and repairs at the CSU-owned presidential homes:
|Dominguez Hills total||18,535.64|
|Long Beach total||208,095.59|
|Monterey Bay total||24,895.00|
|San Diego total||113,444.21|
|San Jose total||232,658.00|
|San Luis Obispo***||2011-12||19,073.95|
|San Luis Obispo total||19,073.95|
*CSU Fresno provided estimates rather than actual expenditures. Campus officials estimated that the university spent between $30,000 and $35,000 per year in the last five years on maintenance to the presidential residence.
**CSU Northridge could provide data only from 2006-07 to 2010-11.
***Cal Poly San Luis Obispo provided only one year of maintenance costs for its University House because prior to 2011, the house was used only as an event center. Before 2011, the university paid former President Warren Baker a housing allowance of $60,000 per year.
Source: California State University