As the Rag reported in an earlier story, 0n September 28, 2016 the Fullerton Planning Commission approved a 610,182 square foot, 295-unit, 4 story mixed-use development on the 600 block of West Commonwealth Ave. on land that had previously been a car dealership. In a split 4 to 3 vote, the Planning Commission approved a Zone Change, a General Plan Revision, a Major Site Plan and a Mitigated Negative Declaration.
Normally, a development approved by the Planning Commission would head straight for the Fullerton City Council, but the 600 W. Commonwealth project has mysteriously disappeared from all City Council agendas, saving incumbents Jennifer Fitzgerald and Bruce Whitaker, each running for re-election, from having to face angry voters who might disagree with an approval to add yet more high density development to a major corridor in the city.On September 20 Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald suggested an unneeded “Study Session” to further delay making a decision about so-called Short Term Rentals (STRs), even though the practice had already (foolishly) been approved by the Fullerton Planning Commission a month earlier. (The Rag editorialized against the practice on July 1 of this year.)
Homeowners are sharply divided over whether or not the city should allow STRs at all, with some preferring no restrictions whatsoever on how often and under what conditions a house may be effectively turned into a hotel in the midst of a single-family neighborhood, while others want the practice banned entirely, as it was in neighboring Anaheim earlier this year.
One thing is entirely clear, the issue has been thoroughly discussed in meetings of the Fullerton Planning Commission. Their recommendations, as well as the city staff’s, were both included in the agenda item for the council. Though a decision may have serious repercussions for homeowners, it is not a complex issue. Too complex, apparently, for Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald, however, who, following numerous comments by members of the public immediately moved to continue the item “to a date uncertain,” with further discussion by the council. Her proposal included directing city staff to schedule a Study Session, arguing earlier that it was too important an issue to be made on “first reading.”
Council members Chaffee, Flory and Sebourn had very specific recommendations regarding the proposal, having evidently studied the agenda item already, but Jennifer Fitzgerald, just had “so many questions,” still. The entire council backed her bid for a delay, including incumbent candidate Bruce Whitaker, safely putting off the decision until after the election. No such Study Session has been scheduled yet, of course…
Both decisions could have been made in timely fashions instead of delaying each until after Nov. 8, when many voters will certainly consider approval of further development and the integrity of their own neighborhoods when casting votes for council members. Agendas for the Fullerton’s City Council’s meetings have been comparatively light without these items. Voters should consider the willingness of candidates to make a controversial decision right before an election when choosing who has the courage to sit on the Fullerton City Council in the first place.