Update: The agenda for the Fullerton City Council meeting of August 5 does indeed show it to be taking place at in the new Public Conference Center at the library next to City Hall. There will be NO LIVE BROADCAST of the meeting if it is held there.
This Tuesday, August 5, the Fullerton City Council will hold the first public hearing to consider the Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan (DCCSP). If adopted, the DCCSP would represent a huge change in the way properties located along parts of Euclid, Harbor, Commonwealth, Orangethrope, Raymond, and other major streets can be developed. But the larger density projects that would be allowed under the plan would affect all of Fullerton.
The meeting begins at 6:30, but the DCCSP will probably not be heard before 7:00, at least. There is no definite word yet about whether the meeting will be held in the City Council chambers, recently closed for renovations, or the Community Room next door at the library. If the Council Chambers are not yet ready, there will be no live broadcast of the City Council considering the biggest specific plan in Fullerton’s history, in the middle of the vacation season.
The Planning Commission heard the DCCSP in two meetings in July. On July 23 the Planning Commissiion, with at two of its members absent, voted to approve the plan. Some members had serious reservations about various parts of the plan, and, after much discussion amongst themselves and comments from the attending public, voiced oppositiion to the DCCSP. However, rather than stand their ground against Fullerton’s planning staff and the deveopers and land owners who will financially benefit from the DCCSP’s sweeping zoning changes and density allowances, these initially courageous commissioners ultmiately chose to vote in favor of the plan, with the caveat that their concerns would be noted to the City Council.
The idea behind the DCCSP is to prepare for population growth by adopting a comprehensive set of zoning changes ahead to time instead of having to deal with small areas and projects on a case by case baisis over the coming decades. It may make sense, in some ways, on a conceptual level, but what’s actually in the plan for some of the 13 plan areas is an allowance for higher density development without mitigation for more traffic or, in some cases, even the public review such projects would otherwise be required to undergo before being built.
Despite being funded by a Sustainable Communities Planning Grant, the plan acknowledges that there is simply no way to improve mobility at several already choked intersections, and doesn’t provide for any mass transportation options as an alternative to more drivers on the road. Bells and whistles like landscaped medians aren’t going to do much for anyone’s daily commute, made worse by the addition of new residents’ vehicles. The assumption that more residents will work closer to their jobs if we increase housing density doesn’t hold much water when businesses areas are re-zoned for housing, forcing them away from residences. And when was the last time you heard of OCTA expanding bus service?
In short, the DCCSP looks like a huge giveaway to developers of mixed-use retail and housing projects intended to provided a higher property tax base for the city coffers. It should be either broken up into smaller plan areas to be considered idividually over a longer period of time, or dispensed with entirely. The Fullerton City Council should have the courage to do what the Planning Commssion would not—stand up to wealthy land owners and insatiable developers and stand up for Fullerton’s residents instead.