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: https://fullertonrag.com/2014/08/05/live-from-the-fullerton-city-council-because-you-cant-watch-anywhere-else/).
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.
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: https://www.facebook.com/events/204757366655119/.
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!).