On March 23 Fullerton’s Planning Commission will take up the question of whether The Waterford Group will be allowed to build a 40 unit residential condominium/townhome complex on busy Bastanchury Road near Morelia Drive, west of Harbor Blvd, on land once used by St. Jude Heritage. The land is currently zoned for office use, and will require an amendment to the city’s General Plan in order to rezone it for residential use, albeit “Low/Medium” density. This model of infill residential development is a familiar one to Fullerton residents, where developers stand to increase profits by packing more people into taller, denser structures. (The staff description of the project is reproduced at the bottom of this post).
Nearby residents are not happy about the prospect of more residences on the edges of their mostly single family home neighborhoods, and have organized to stop the project. According to a change.org petition set up by the Committee to Save North Fullerton:
“The net effect of high density housing in this area will create even more traffic congestion, gridlock, bottlenecks and accidents, something we are already plagued with on a poorly engineered road. Additionally, it will alter the unique landscape and more rural character and charm of this area – an area known for its low density housing, equestrian property and tree lined streets.”
The 50 mph speed limit of Bastanchury has been rightly cited by the anti-Melia group as a factor in their opposition to this project. It is arguably dangerous and “inappropriate,” as the group’s page notes, to house families along such corridor of vehicular transportation. The Rag agrees, and suggests that, for safety reasons, this speed limit be reduced anyway, development or not. The petition already has 430 signatures, portending a contentious meeting of tonight’s Planning Commission.
The prospective builders, Melia Homes, have set up their own website to combat what they evidently view as misconceptions about the project, including a chart showing that far fewer car trips result form office use than from residential use.
Melia also notes that the sites existing 1970’s era office buildings have “been vacant since 2010 and subject to frequent vandalism,” but they do not explain what the landowner has done, if anything, to prevent vandalism, and, more importantly, if they have ever tried to lease out any of the buildings. A cynic could suppose that when the buildings were vacated by St. Jude following the construction of their new tower across from the hospital, they might have simply waited until housing prices recovered to build residential units.
It is encouraging to see residents organizing to oppose developments they consider wrong for their regions of the city, but one hopes the name Committee to Save North Fullerton does not indicate a narrow interest in just that area of Fullerton. Although it is best to act locally, an overall vision of the city is needed to establish an appropriate vision of development in the coming decades.
From the March 23 Planning Commission Agenda:
“ 3. PRJ14-00272 – LRP14-00011 – LRP14-00012 – LRP14-00013 – SUB14-00007 – SUB16-00001 – ZON14-00095. APPLICANT: THE WATERFORD GROUP; PROPERTY OWNER: SHERRY SISKIN SIDNEY TRUST. A request to construct a residential project with 40 units, consisting of 6 duplex units, 6 triplex units, and 28 attached townhomes. The project includes a General Plan Revision from Office to Low/Medium Density Residential; Zoning Amendment from Office Professional (O-P) to Specific Plan District (SPD) and adoption of a Specific Plan unless an anticipated zoning classification specific to residential infill projects, Planned Residential Development – Infill (PRD-I), is adopted prior to project approval; Major Site Plan including site and design plans; Tentative Tract Map for one common lot for condominium purposes; and the Abandonment of Unused Equestrian and Utility Easements on property located at 433 and 455-459 Bastanchury Road (generally located on the north side of Bastanchury Road, between Morelia Avenue and the railroad). (Mitigated Negative Declaration) (Staff Planner: Heather Allen)