Red Oak Investments: Residences above Retail, or the Love Boat over Public Storage?

The 295 unit, four story, double structure apartment complex proposed for 600 W. Commonwealth Ave. may only be the latest of its type in Fullerton, but it would be the first in a series for the area west of downtown if it’s allowed to be built. Commonwealth Ave. was one of the “corridors” in the wrong-headed Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan (DCCSP) the city tried to push off on the residents a couple of years ago until it was stopped by popular opposition.* Attempts were made later to revive the DCCSP piecemeal from the ashes, but no new wholesale zoning changes were passed for the area, which was arguably the most dangerous part of the plan. For now, developers still have to seek changes in zoning for their specific projects, one at a time, like Red Oak.

However, the more big projects that are successful in securing these changes in zoning, the more big projects will follow, etc., because each new one that is allowed to be built will contribute to changing the character of the street to one of high density, multi-story structures, “normalizing” them for the area (to use the current popular term). Right now, Commonwealth Avenue west of Harbor is not filled with developments like the large four story Red Oak Investments project slated to come before the Fullerton City Council on January 17, but if the City Council approves the 600,000 plus square foot buildings they will establish a foothold for others to follow, which is what the DCCSP was supposed to do in one fell swoop back in 2014. (Rag readers will recall that the city tried to pass the most sweeping zoning change in the history of Fullerton in the middle of summer vacation time in the library without a live broadcast:

Planners have a name for the current state of West Commonwealth Ave., and it is “underperforming,” because that is how they see an unplanned series of one story apartments and modest businesses, you know, places where people live and make a living. Another term for existing small apartments is “affordable housing” that already exists, and it is just the sort of housing that will be forced out as apartment owners see that they can redevelop their properties into four story blocks with much higher rental prices The units at the proposed Red Oak project are slated to cost $ 2,500.00 per month.


West Commonwealth: The “horrors” of small businesses and existing affordable housing…


Allowing the first one on West Commonwealth will lead to a corridor of monolithic buildings along the avenue, casting shadows over the houses behind them. We’ve already seen it happen on East Commonwealth in the form of the Ventana building. And just because Red Oak’s project tries to avoid looking blocky by “stacking” boxcar-inspired masses atop one another and juggling setbacks from the sidewalk, it will still be a huge double complex in an area surrounded by older, affordable housing.

If we allow it to be built, more will come, and there is no plan to handle the traffic that will obviously result from more and more of them. Show up Monday night at the Library to talk about how to responsibly plan our city, and not leave it to the out of town developers who want to shake as much money as possible from their investments with no concern for the residents affected by their plans. Come to the Fullerton Public Library (Osbourne Room) tonight for a free public meeting organized by Friends for a Livable Fullerton:


*And this blog:


The Rag will take a little credit, but it was probably stopped because residents were calling council members to object to it (keep those calls coming!).


The proposed Red Oak Investments project, seen from Drake Ave., looking south.

Friends for a Livable Fullerton (FFLF) is hosting a free informational community meeting about the so-called Red Oak Project at the Fullerton Public Library’s Osborne Auditorium, 353 W Commonwealth Ave, Fullerton, at 7 pm on Monday, January 9, 2017.

As the Rag reported last October, The Fullerton Planning Commission approved the 610,182 square foot, 295-unit, 4 story mixed-use development on September 28, 2016 in a split 4 to 3 vote, despite opposition from nearby residents. At least two of the dissenting commissioners cited a lack of adequate parking as a reason for voting against the project (although it should be noted that one of them, Commissioner Larry Bennett, was running for Fullerton City Council at the time). The Planning Commission’s approval included a Zone Change, a General Plan Revision, a Major Site Plan and a Mitigated Negative Declaration for the former auto dealership site located on the 600 block of West Commonwealth Ave.

The high-density residential and retail development is scheduled to be heard by the Fullerton City Council on Tuesday, January 17. The council should consider mounting opposition to this and similar proposals to add more traffic to the city’s already overburdened streets without providing any additional public transportation for residents. Simply locating housing near a train station does not guarantee that residents will commute by train or bus .The council should also pay close attention to the scale of this project compared to the existing older houses next to it.

For additional information about the project and the meeting  visit,email, or call 714-729-3019.

The Red Oak project will be available for review 72 hours prior to the January 17, 2017 Public Hearing. The Environmental Documents and Presentations from the Study Session and Planning Commission Public Hearing in September 2016 are currently available on the City’s website at the following link:


Jesus Silva was sworn into office tonight by his wife, Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, as the newest member of the Fullerton City Council. Bruce Whitaker will serve as mayor, Doug Chaffee will be Mayor Pro Tem, in accordance with the rules of rotation previously adopted by the council.

It was announced earlier in the meeting that Joe Felz has retired from the position of City Manager. A special meeting has been called for January 5 to consider candidates for the position of City Manager. Fullerton currently has no long term Librarian, Chief of Police, or City Manager. Mr. Silva will have the opportunity to be a very influential vote on these hirings.

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