Archives for category: Downtown Fullerton
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Red Oak Investments: Residences above Retail, or the Love Boat over Public Storage?

Matthew Leslie

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.

west-commonwealth

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: https://www.facebook.com/events/204757366655119/.

 

*And this blog: https://fullertonrag.com/2014/08/05/doug-chaffee-and-jennifer-fitzgerald-must-recuse-themselves-from-the-core-and-corridors-vote/

 

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!).

Insurance salesmen like blue shirts…

On September 29, 2016 the League of Women Voters of North Orange County hosted a forum for candidates running for Fullerton City Council in November. Ten of the twelve candidates running for the three open seats on the council participated, including two incumbents. Candidates all responded to the same questions submitted by audience members, but asked by a LWV moderator. Candidates were given two minutes each for an opening statement and one minute for a closing statement. The video is just over two hours in length, and is posted to the Fullerton Rag’s YouTube channel.

The LWV requests that the video not be edited for political purposes. For this reason, any commentary I make on the forum will be made by referencing time stamps in the complete video. There were some problems with the microphones at times during the proceedings, leading to intermittent dropped amplification and candidates passing microphones down the long table.

Participating candidates were, in order of randomly drawn speaking order: Joshua Ferguson, Jennifer Fitzgerald (incumbent), Larry Bennett, Joe Imbriano, Jesus Silva, Jane Rands, Charles Sargeant, Jonathan Mansoori, Bruce Whitaker (incumbent), and Susan Gapinski. The forum was quite well attended, with most of the seats in the Fullerton Public Library’s Community Room filled by interested voters.

Questions asked of the candidates included…

How would they make more affordable housing available?

What was their position on the proposed development of Coyote Hills?

Did they think that the District Elections map proposed by the city council diluted the votes of downtown residents?

Would they allow marijuana dispensaries in Fullerton?

What would they do about unsustainable public pension obligations?

What would be their two top priorities if elected?

What is your position on the proposed closure of Nutwood Ave. for the College Town specific plan?

What is your position on the closure of the Hunt Branch Library?

Do you support the plan for renovating Hillcrest Park?

This video was recorded by City of Fullerton staff, and was downloaded from the City of Fullerton’s website. It can also be viewed there at this link:

http://fullerton.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=801

Matthew Leslie

A remarkable thing happened during the August 2 Fullerton City Council meeting. During the long period of comments offered by members of the public, one in the parade of stooges supporting Map  8A, the bar owner map, admitted that it was indeed about development. Referencing his own half term as Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald’s appointee to the Fullerton Planning Commission, Sam Han cited the need for all five council members to have a voice in planning developments downtown.

Of course, every city council member is responsible for planning decisions all over the city now, and would be under a district elections system too. What Mr. Han and his fellow Stooges for Fitzgerald find alarming is the idea that a member might be elected by the downtown area residents to make the case for responsible planning decisions in the area, instead of packing it with cheap high-rise apartments. Map 8A idiotically divides the downtown into five pieces, robbing the area residents of a community voice.

Calling Downtown Fullerton the “face of our community, moving forward,” Sam Han stated that “when you have planning decisions, every city council (member) has to be responsible for those planning decisions, and I fear that if we go with Map 2B, yes, I agree there are merits to both maps, but I think in Map 8A the long term strategic planning of our city from what downtown could become, it would be more wise for the council to adopt those decisions.”

One could hope that Mr. Han’s sermons are better composed and delivered than his wandering comments at public meetings, but we take his point to be that it’s all about development.

Note that Sam Han clearly stated, this time, that he spoke only on behalf of himself and his family. The last time I wrote about Sam Han it was to question his claim that his words of support for Map 8 (now 8A) were on behalf of the “five thousand members of our church” referring to Grace Ministries, an almost exclusively Korean-American Church located on Brookhurst and Commonwealth, where he serves as a pastor.* (See Jesus Loves the Nightlife?…).

Earlier in his comments Mr. Han acknowledged that many other members of the Korean community were there that night to support a different map, and oppose Map 8A, but that he disagreed with them. Their support for a different map was a wise choice on their part, since each of the three other maps drew an Asian voting majority in the northwest area of Fullerton. Only the makers of Map 8A, supported by Mr. Han and his patron, Mayor Fitzgerald, somehow managed to formulate a northwest district without a majority Asian voting population, quite the high wire act. Jennifer Fitzgerald happens to live in what would be the northwest district in Map 8A. Coincidence that it doesn’t have an Asian voting majority? What do you think…?

 

*When he is not serving as District Representative for 68th District Sate Senator Donald P. Wagner (R).

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