University Hills Neighborhood Association History
The Association was established on March 6, 1972 as the University Hills Homeowners Association, referred to as the UHHA. The UHHA was established as a civic organization of property owners (not an HOA) concerned with maintaining the single-family residential footprint of the University Hills area and the preservation of Dottie Jordan Park and all its facilities as established when the community was formed. On April 1, 1991, reflecting the ongoing demographic changes in the area, the name of the Association was changed to the University Hills Neighborhood Association, referred to as the UHNA. The UHNA (not an HOA) operates as a not-for-profit civic association of residents in the University Hills area of Northeast Austin, Texas.
History of University Hills
University Hills, a single family residential community, was created by Walter Carrington, an Austin developer, in the late 60's and early 70's on land which originally was part of the Cook Ranch, a land holding that covered much of Northeast Austin. To this day, several local streets are named for members of the Cook family.
Aside from the Cook named streets, Carrington named the streets in the community for universities all over the country. That concept, along with the fact that the area is hilly in most sections, led to the name of the community as University Hills.
At the time of the development of University Hills, IBM was in the process of moving its corporate headquarters from its Kentucky location to Austin, Texas. Consequently, many of the original home owners in the area were IBM employees relocating to Austin. Also, many of the original property owners were state employees, AISD educators, IRS employees, elected officials, and employees of many corporate entities located in Austin.
At a time when red-lining was an accepted concept in real estate development in Austin, University Hills was an example of ethnic equity. To this day, current demographics indicate the continuation of that equity, one of the attributes contributing to University Hills' image as a good place for all citizens to lay down roots, raise a family, form friendships, and provide mutual support.
No history of University Hills would be complete without documentation of the community's successful effort to prevent the park from being developed into an apartment complex with all amenities thereon to be available only to residents of the apartments. When Carrington announced his intention to convert the park to apartments, the homeowners objected, to which Carrington replied, "If you don't like what I am planning, sue me!"
So the community did just that with sixty residents signing on as litigants. After a two week civil court case, the jury unanimously voted that Carrington had lied to the homeowners when he and his sales people stated that the park would always be there for the pleasure and use of the community and has used this statement as a major selling point to potential property purchasers.
Subsequent to the jury's verdict, and with the city's intent to purchase the park from Carrington, the judge issued a ruling that the park and all amenities thereon shall be utilized only for park and recreation uses. This ruling, along with all legal documentation of the court case, again came into play in 2012 when the then city council unsuccessfully considered closing the Dottie Jordan Recreation Center and utilizing the space for other than park and recreation purposes.
Also deeply embedded in the history of University Hills is the formation of the University Hills Neighborhood Association, originally known as a homeowners association. Through the formation of this organization, the University Hills community monitors and addresses, daily, every city action which, potentially, could alter the area's attraction as a single family residential community.
Concerns monitored include the safety of all area citizens, providing and sponsoring activities at the park recreation center, assisting in the implementation of educational programs which emphasize the importance of learning for all students, contributing to long range planning at the city level including zoning and development issues, infrastructure, transportation, and fiscal responsibility involving the use of taxpayers' dollars.
The UHNA also hosts its signature "We The People" candidate forums involving city, county, and school candidates.
Because of the work of the University Hills Neighborhood Association, past and present, current residents as well as new families and individuals moving into the University Hills community are able to enjoy the beauty and pleasure of our Northeast Austin area.
Read this 2015 Austin-American Statesman article for more history of our neighborhood.
Since 2010, the needs and concerns of the University Hills community have been addressed by the following UHNA accomplishments.
Through a Citizen Task Force established in 2008, documentation of disabled citizens warehoused in rogue (no license, permit, staff, safety, health protection) homes in the Northeast area of Austin. Found and lobbied for passage and signing into law (2009) of the HB 216 State Law regarding adequate health and safety standards for residents of such homes.
Prevented closure of the Dottie Jordan Park Recreation Center by the City of Austin by working with area organizations to complete a successful petition drive against the closing and providing pertinent legal documentation preventing such action by the city. These endeavors resulted in a 7-0 city council vote for the center to remain open.
Sponsored a gathering of 11 Northeast Austin neighborhood organizations to discuss the Imagine Austin proposal and the potential, long-range effects on communities in Northeast Austin.
Sponsored a City Council candidates forum held at the Dottie Jordan Recreation Center prior to the 2012 council election.
Worked for preservation of the UHNA Future Land Use Map (FLUM) by successfully defeating an attempt to upzone property on Manor Road.
Protected students at Reagan High School by working with a coalition of neighborhoods and civic groups to prevent the selling of alcohol within 50 feet of Reagan High School.
Lobbied successfully for the vote by the AISD Board of Trustees to convert the Pearce/Garcia Middle Schools to Single Gender Schools thereby assuring that our community students will receive a long overdue equitable education which will provide the opportunity to these students to become leaders in their community and the city as a whole. Backed AISD's hiring of Sterlin McGruder as principal for the Young Men's School.
Since 2015, the University Hills Neighborhood Association has worked towards the successful conclusion of the following projects:
Passage of a City of Austin ordinance, based on the HB 216 State Law's seven Model Standards; purpose of the ordinance is to provide adequate health and safety standards for disabled residents presently being warehoused in locations operating without governance by the City of Austin.
Working with the Community Development Commission regarding the appropriate placing of any additional low income housing in the Northeast Austin area including the present proposal for low income housing to be included in the development of the Colony Park PUD.
Working with the Austin Police Department to establish better communications and assistance in all matters affecting the Northeast community including burglary of residence, car theft and/or vandalism of vehicle, enforcement of the Loud Noise Ordinance, graffiti removal, park protection, response time to problem calls and areas, availability of officers in charge of an area, and equitable treatment of citizens involved in police matters.
Encouraging community residents to avail themselves of membership in the UHNA; annual dues are $10.00 per year, and through your membership provide guidance, leadership, and strength in support of maintaining the viability of our single family neighborhood.