Archives for category: Fullerton Planning

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Matthew Leslie

On May 15 the Fullerton City Council voted to form Library Ad-Hoc Committee to consider recommendations to explore future uses of the Hunt Branch Library. The library is currently closed, and leased out to neighboring Grace Ministries on a month-to-month basis. Although the Library Board of Trustees seems generally to favor retaining the Hunt as a city facility, opinions on that board differ about what can, and should, be done with it. The City Council is more sharply divided, with two members, Bruce Whitaker and Jesus Silva, voicing support for keeping it in city hands, while Mayor Doug Chaffee has openly advocated selling it. His position is evidently shared by Council member Jennifer Fitzgerald, who was quoted in a May 24 OC Register story as speculating that a sale of the property could help fund library services on the east side of the city. Mayor Pro Tem Greg Sebourn remains uncommitted on the matter. Although some of his comments in the recent meeting could be taken as encouraging by anyone advocating for the Hunt to remain a city asset, he has not ruled out a sale.

Formation of the ad-hoc committee was ultimately approved on a 4-0 vote during the May 15 meeting (Jennifer Fitzgerald absent), but only after extensive discussion by the council. The city staff report proposed a committee of seven that would include two members of the city council, but just one library trustee, in addition to one member each from the Fullerton Parks and Recreation Commission, Fullerton Heritage, and the Fullerton Planning Commission, and the Fullerton Public Library Foundation*. Council member Jesus Silva, who had suggested establishing the committee at an earlier meeting of the City Council, objected to populating the ad-hoc with “a lot of ‘inside players,’” and suggested expanding it to “include some members of the surrounding community” because they would ultimately be most affected by whatever plans were eventually made for the property. Mr. Silva also said he wanted to include representatives from “cultural and educational organizations to see if we can really generate some ideas,” referring to the possible use of the Hunt as a center for cultural and education programming.

Council member Bruce Whitaker agreed, saying that it was “time to step back and take a wider view as to what the beneficial use of this city-owned property might be over time. And that would be the effort of the ad-hoc committee—to bring people who are creative and who might help forge partnerships that would allow us to renew that facility in a part of town where we need that, where we don’t have much in the way of city facilities.”

Mr. Silva suggested reducing the number of city councilors on the ad-hoc to one, and adding a member of the elementary school district board, another library trustee, and members of the public. Mayor Chaffee objected to including any library trustees at all, stating “I hear way too much bias when I listen to that group.”

Mayor Pro Tem Greg Sebourn called the ad-hoc an opportunity for “getting the community engaged.” He supported including a mix of public members, and didn’t see the need to include a member of the city council. His motion to get the committee started by having each member of the council simply appoint a person of his or her choice was the plan eventually adopted at the meeting. These five initial appointments are expected to be announced at the June 3 meeting of the city council. Library Director Judy Booth will be included as an ex-officio member.

Once convened, the new ad-hoc will appoint four additional members. A link is present on the city’s website for applications for the committee, but does not yet lead to an actual application. Interested parties are encouraged to call or email the City Clerk’s office to find out how to apply at (714) 738-6350 or CityClerksOffice@cityoffullerton.com.

Though not technically required to do so, the new ad-hoc will proceed in accordance with the Brown Act, announcing meetings in advance, and open them to the public, and keep minutes. Rather than the sixty days recommended by city staff, the committee will continue for at least ninety days. During this time City Manager Ken Domer will contact “educational and cultural arts organizations interested in utilizing the property” in advance of an anticipated City Council Study Session later this year.

Some of the many members of the public who spoke to the issue that night didn’t see the need for the formation of an ad-hoc committee at all. Elizabeth Gibbs recalled that another such committee had already existed five years ago, whose recommendations had been adopted by the Fullerton Library Board of Trustees. Others agreed that the trustees themselves were the appropriate body to explore options for the Hunt, but Mayor Chaffee characterized the Hunt as “a building owned by the city without any purpose or restriction on it,”

Area resident Maria Hernandez recalled visiting the Hunt Branch Library frequently with her children, and told the council that if they “converted Hunt Branch library into a cultural center, (they) would be creating jobs, family activities, and come to the rescue of a historic site…” 

Library Trustee Ryan Cantor, who was himself a member of original 2012 ad-hoc  committee, took issue with the agenda item’s reference to the Hunt as a “former library,” as did current Fullerton Library Board of Trustees President Sean Paden. “It’s not the former library, it is the library. It’s closed, but it’s still our library,” said Mr. Paden.  In response, the  city council agreed not to refer to the Hunt Branch in those terms from that point forward. Trustee Cantor recommended issuing Requests for Proposals from interested community groups who might be able to provide funding and/or programming for the Hunt, something also discussed during Library Board meetings.

Nine days later the Library Board itself considered several items regarding the Hunt during their regular May meeting. Rather than meeting in the small boardroom in the west part of the building, the May 24 meeting was held in the Main Library’s Osbourn Auditorium to accommodate the unusual presence of nearly forty public observers. The trustees adopted a document intended to “Define the Intent of the Gift of the Hunt Library.” 

As requested in their previous Special Meeting of May 5, a representative from the office of the City Attorney was present in the person of Deputy City Attorney Kim Barlow for consultation about legal actions the trustees might choose to take over any proposed sale of the Hunt. Ms. Barlow promised to respond to questions in a confidential email to the trustees.

*The Fullerton Public Library Foundation is a non-profit that raises supplemental funds for specific library projects, and is distinct from the Fullerton Public Library Board of Trustees, and from the Friends of the Fullerton Public Library who organize periodic book sales and operate the library’s book store.

Coyote Hills Vista

The Fullerton City Council wants the state’s $ 15 million, but not if it means saving the whole park.

Angela Lindstrom

Reprinted from the Early September Edition of the Fullerton Observer

In the August 2017 issue of the Fullerton Observer, I wrote a somewhat tongue-in-cheek piece titled “I’m All for Saving Coyote Hills… Unless It Can Actually Be Done”. This was in response to the Orange County Register’s misinformed editorial criticizing a couple of pending state legislations to help fund the acquisition of West Coyote Hills for a public park and preserve.

AB 510 and SB 714 legislations as currently proposed by Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva and Senator Newman would set up a multi-year funding program through a Coyote Hills Conservancy to save all of Coyote Hills as a park and preserve for our park poor region of North Orange County. This is consistent with Fullerton voters’ 2012 Measure W referendum that rejected the development of West Coyote Hills.

Sadly, the majority of the Fullerton City Council lived up to my “expectation” by rejecting AB 510 and SB 714 at its August 1st City Council meeting. It’s not that they don’t want the state funds. They want the money to go directly to the City so they can implement what they call the “Path Forward”, a euphemism for the development of West Coyote Hills as proposed by Chevron-Pacific Coast Homes.

This is the “local control” (another euphemism) they want so they can circumvent the conservancy oversight of park funds. Under this path forward to development, the City can purchase a couple of pieces of land at the highest entitled price. But even if that is successful, most of the 760 houses and shopping center will still be built on the remaining land.

Wait, millions of our tax dollars will be paid to Chevron-PCH and we have to live with all the negative impacts of their development: 10,000 additional daily car-trips on our streets, air and dust pollution, houses built on polluted oil wells and an earthquake fault, and overcrowded schools?

Councilwoman Fitzgerald followed up this Council meeting by slamming AB 510 and SB 714 in the OC Register, borrowing the famous words (not infamous as she wrote) of Ronald Reagan: “The most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government, I’m here to help.’” We should be more terrified of the lack ofcitizen local control over our own local government.

But it gets worse. At the August 29th Special Council meeting, Councilwoman Fitzgerald insisted on discussing an un-agendized item to re-write SB714.  She proposed language to poison and weaken SB 714 to enable the development of Coyote Hills.

Fitzgerald Coyote Hills 714

Fullerton City Councilmember Jennifer Fitzgerald introduces language to modify SB 714 during a joint study session about the Fox Block.

SB 714 as proposed by Senator Josh Newman would gather funds to save all 510 acres of Coyote Hills for a public park and preserve. Councilwoman Fitzgerald wants to add language to legitimize the Council’s 2015 approval of Chevron’s Vesting Tentative Tract Map (VTTM), with all of its terms and conditions, including the Environmental Impact Report as the only plan for Coyote Hills (development).

The legitimacy of this VTTM the Fullerton City Council approved by ignoring the people’s 2012 Measure W vote is the very subject of a lawsuit led by the Friends of Coyote Hills, Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, and the Center for Biodiversity.

If you support saving Coyote Hills and don’t want to lose this funding opportunity, write or call the Fullerton City Council and tell them to support AB 510 and SB 714 as proposed by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and State Senator Josh Newman. Stop trying to confuse the public with the path forward to development.

Fullerton City Council

303 W. Commonwealth Avenue | Fullerton, CA 92832

(714) 738-6311

Email: council@cityoffullerton.com

 

Angela Lindstrom is the President of the Friends of Coyote Hills coyotehills.org

Angelos Street View

Angelo’s & Vinci’s: will the city demolish it to provide parking for it?

Matthew Leslie

 

Anyone who attended the joint Fullerton City Council and Planning Commission Study Session on the Fox Block Tuesday night might be tempted to believe that time is cyclical, or in Nietzsche’s concept of the Eternal Return (“I’ll have to sit through the Ice Capades again,” joked Woody Allen). Didn’t we all, at some time in the not too distant past, watch Pelican-Laing’s Dick Hamm pitch his mundane ideas for developing some city-owned property or other, like Amerige Court? And didn’t we all see “architectural” renderings depicting some sort of contest to see how many boxy stucco structures could be crammed into the block surround the Fullerton’s historic Fox Theater just a few years ago?

Yes, we did, but then Dick Hamm and Pelican-Laing were hired last year to pitch ideas for what to do with the so-called Fox Block, currently stranded in post Redevlopment limbo, and Tuesday night we all got to see and hear their best efforts, which were less than inspiring, to say the least.

Despite the mind numbing sense of deja vu, the evening was somehow still full of surprises. Pelican-Laing had four proposals in their report, presented by the perpetually tanned Mr. Hamm, and two of them included buying and demolishing Angelo’s & Vinci’s Ristorante. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. Half of Dick Hamm’s four proposed scenarios for development on the Fox Block site were at least partially predicated on buying and leveling the restaurant whose parking agreement with the city is given as the very reason for building anything on the site in the first place.

Before we decide just how far off into the clouds this effort has ascended, let’s quickly review the four possible development options, as presented by Mr. Hamm:

  1. A parking structure on the big rectangular part of the L-shaped parking lot south of Ellis Place.
  1. A parking structure plus a mixed use, two and one half-storey development on the triangular parking lot north of the A & V’s, and a two-storey office building, residential, and/or mixed use building on the Chapman/Pomona corner site.
  1. A parking structure, residential condos, and a retail courtyard on Harbor, with possible development on the triangle and Pomona sites.
  1. A parking structure, an eight screen movie theater with retail on Harbor.

Even Mr. Hamm and Pelican-Laing’s report make it clear that they do not favor # 4, the movie theater proposal, but # 3 was taken seriously by the some of the elected and appointed officials that night, leaving stunned audience members to speculate about the real motives behind the whole effort to develop around the Fox Fullerton in the first place.

We also had to wonder why, if Angelo’s & Vinci’s was fair game for a purchase to make room for development, the recently renovated McDonald’s was not. After all, just a few years ago the city was seriously contemplating spending $ 6 million to move the fast food restaurant from its present location, inconveniently in the middle of the southern boundary of the site, to a more development-friendly location on the southeast corner of Chapman and Pomona. No one had a ready answer to that question.

Although the proceedings were characterized as a Study Session, the city planning staff nonetheless sought guidance from the council about which scenarios to seriously consider. Mayor Whitaker conducted an informal straw poll of the five council members and the six present members of the Planning Commission. Even a straw poll, however, seemed out of order for an item designated “Receive and File.”

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