Archives for category: Jane Rands

1934cornerview

The Firestone building next to the Fox Theater circa 1930’s. Things change, but they don’t have to be made worse.

Matthew Leslie

On June 21 the Fullerton City Council voted 4 to 1, Bruce Whitaker dissenting, to award an exclusive negotiating agreement with Dick Hamm’s Pelican Communities to develop a plan for the Fox Block. The so-called Fox Block concept has been around for several years, dating back to the days of Fullerton’s Redevelopment Agency. Although Redevelopment has gone away (for now), there is still money set aside for the project. The stated rationale for the project is an agreement between Cynthia Peck, owner of the adjacent Angelo’s and Vinci’s Restaurant and the RDA (now the city’s “Successor Agency”) to provide adequate parking for the theater when and if it ever opens so the restaurant will not be left without convenient spaces for its patron’s vehicles.

Six members of the public spoke out against entering into an exclusive agreement with Pelican, citing such concerns as:

  • Pelican’s inability to build anything on the Amerige Court site they were supposed to develop nearly ten years ago,
  • Their record of insensitivity to historic resources
  • The lack of transparency in the process because the decision to prepare the original Request for Proposals was made by the Fullerton City Council in a Closed Session meeting in 2015.
  • The vagueness of the staff report, in general

Only one member of the public spoke in favor of the agreement, Leland Wilson, who was a member of the three person board who rated the applicants for Fullerton’s Community Development staff, who ultimately made the recommendation to the Fullerton City Council last week.  Leland Wilson is President of the Fullerton Historic Theater Foundation, overseeing the restoration and eventual operation of the Fox Theater itself. He has also filed papers this year to run for Fullerton City Council, an office he held for a single term between 2002 and 2006.

One speaker who expressed concerns about Pelican’s lack of sensitivity for historic resources was Jane Reifer, who was herself a principal figure in saving the Fox Theater from destruction. Several years ago it was Jane Reifer who pointed out that Pelican’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) of the Amerige Court site downtown characterized several 1920’s era historic structures as “inconsequential 1960’s style” buildings.

Community Development Director Karen Haluza vouched for Pelican’s record of sensitivity to historic resources in their recent Tustin project, Prospect Village. Here is an image of it, you be the judge.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 9.15.40 PM copy

Watch out Fullerton, this is what Pelican built in historic Downtown Tustin.

Perhaps Ms. Haluza was referring to the scale of the new buildings, but, comically, or tragically, if you value historic buildings, one was actually torn down to clear the site for Prospect Village. Here is a quote from an OC Register article published at the time of its groundbreaking:

Old Town merchants and developers from Pelican, Tustin LLC, were on hand Monday for the groundbreaking for the long-awaited Prospect Village, a 13-building retail and residential complex to be built at the northwest corner of Main Street and Prospect Avenue.

They gathered next to the remaining two buildings of the historic Utt Juice Company, which will be razed to make way for the new project with 40,000-square feet of new retail space.

Only one speaker, council candidate Joe Imbriano, asserted that the Fox Theater itself was in danger of being eventually torn down. Director Haluza properly assured him that there were no plans for razing the structure, of course, but the larger point of what kind of structure could be appropriate to build next to the Fox was left for later consideration. Commenter Roy Zartman, a local sound engineer with decades of professional experience, cautioned the council that unless “forty foot” equipment trucks can ultimately access the rear of the Fox, no large touring acts would be able to play at the venue.

Most disturbing was Pelican’s Dick Hamm expressing admiration for what we’ll charitably call the “restoration” of the Firestone Building on Chapman Ave., adjoining the Fox Theater. The Firestone is certainly a functional space for its current tenant, Dripp coffee shop, but no one could seriously say that the building much resembles one that had been restored with historical accuracy, with its metal mullioned windows and lego brick-looking roof. If this is what Dick Hamm and our planning staff admire, watch out…

Firestone Today

The Firestone Building. (Image borrowed without permission from Roadside Architecture.com).

As developers do, Mr. Hamm expressed great enthusiasm for building of the site, but one has to wonder why there were so few responses to the Request for Qualifications issued by the city. Director Haluza spoke of evaluating just four, and though she repeatedly noted that Pelican had scored something like 95 out of 100 possible points in the evaluating process that involved Mr. Wilson, it does seem curious that if it is a site with such potential, no more than four responses were evidently received. Is it even realistic to think that adequate parking can be provided on the site without building a structure that is radically out of scale with the neighborhood to the north? As Leland Wilson himself wrote in an email announcing his 2016 council candidacy: “I believe we can ask for better projects that fit Fullerton’s character. Putting 6 stories next to single story homes is just plain wrong.”

One issue that went entirely unaddressed at the public hearing was the potential conflict of interest presented by having Leland Wilson, a declared candidate for Fullerton City Council, participate in the evaluation process that included Pelican, a developer who contributed no fewer than $ 1,500.00 to Mr. Wilson’s unsuccessful re-election campaign in 2006. Although the evaluation process began prior to Mr. Wilson’s March 10 announcement of his candidacy, “Follow-up” interviews are identified as having taken place that same month on the city’s Fox Block web page. The Rag will be very attentive to Mr. Wilson’s campaign filings to see if Pelican is as generous to him in this year’s election as they were in the past.

Leland Wilson Pelican Donaton 2006

$ 1,000.00 from Pelican for Leland Wilson’s failed 2006 campaign…


Wilson Pelican Donation II

…and another $ 500.00 from Pelican for Leland Wilson, for a total of $ 1,500.00.

 

And while we’re on the subject, we ought to consider who else’s political campaigns have been the beneficiaries of Pelican’s largesse. I’ve reproduced all the filings I could find from the city’s website, recording the following contributions to current members of the Fullerton City Council who voted in favor of entering into the exclusive agreement with Pelican last Tuesday:

Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald received $ 500.00 from Pelican in 2012; Mayor Pro Tem Jan Flory received two separate $ 250.00 contributions, one in 2012, another in 2013, for a total of $ 500.00.

Fitzgerald Pelican Donation 2012

$ 500.00 from Pelican for Jennifer Fitzgerald’s 2012 campaign.


Flory Pelican Donation 2012

$ 250.00 from Pelican for Jan Flory’s 2012 campaign…


Flory Pelican Donation 2012 2

…and $ 250.00 more from Pelican for Jan Flory in 2013, even though she is not running for re-election.

Doug Chaffee, re-elected.

Doug Chaffee, re-elected.

Greg Sebourn, re-elected.

Greg Sebourn, re-elected.

Since everyone is still asking, here are the results of the November 4 election…

Elections on Tuesday brought us more of the same at home, and a big difference in Sacramento. At home, incumbents Doug Chaffee and Greg Sebourn were both re-elected to the two open seats on the Fullerton City Council

Here are the numbers from the Orange County Registrar of Voters:

DOUG CHAFFEE 9,459 25.1%

GREG SEBOURN 7,623 20.2%

LARRY BENNETT 6,822 18.1%

JANE RANDS 4,781 12.7%

RICK ALVAREZ 4,174 11.1%

SEAN PADEN 3,832 10.2%

BILL CHAFFEE 986 2.6%
See the official results here:

http://www.ocvote.com/fileadmin/live/gen2014/results.htm#c-376

but keep in mind that at least some provisional and late ballots still have not been counted. Although they will add to the final tallies for candidates, they are unlikely to change the outcome of the contest. In the past two elections, late ballots did make the difference, with Doug Chaffee being overtaken by Pat Mckinley in 2010, and Travis Kiger being edged out by a mere 29 votes by Jan Flory 2012. In 2014, the 800 vote lead enjoyed by Greg Sebourn will be hard for challenger Larry Bennett to overcome.

Sharon Quirk-Silva, not re-elected.

Sharon Quirk-Silva, not re-elected.

One-tern incumbent California Assembly Member Sharon Quirk-Silva was soundly defeated by newcomer Young Kim in one of the most expensive Assembly races in California history. The changeover affects not only Orange County’s 65th District, but robs the Democrats of a supermajority in Sacramento just as a Democratic governor was easily re-elected.

All three incumbent members of the Fullerton Joint Union High School District running for re-election fended off the four challenging candidates on the ballot to keep their seats, some of which have been held for decades. Bob Hathaway, Bob Singer, and Marilyn Buchi will each serve another full term.

Sebourn-BIA

The Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan (DCCSP) has become so unpopular that virtually all of the seven candidates for Fullerton City Council have expressed opposition to it in some form. During a recent forum hosted by the North Orange County League of Women Voters none of the seven gathered candidates supported the DCCSP as written.

Some candidates cited concerns about the comprehensive nature of the plan, while others were more specific  about the DCCSP’s potentially negative effects on current residents, but we should remember that it is developers and City Hall who want it to pass, and being too tied to either group should give voters pause when considering which candidate(s) would be most likely to follow through on stopping the DCCSP as it now exists.

Incumbent Greg Sebourn, for example, has received $ 1,000.00 in campaign contributions this year from the Building Industry Association (BIA) of Southern California’s PAC and Olson Urban Housing, LLC. The BIA exists to build, and build more housing. Olson is an Orange County based builder responsible for Liberty Walk, Legacy Walk, SOCO Walk, and other residential blocks in Fullerton shoehorned into parcels next to existing single family home neighborhoods.

Old guard candidate Larry Bennett also received $ 1,000.00 from the BIA PAC. Raise your hand if you’re surprised. You shouldn’t be, since Mr. Bennett is endorsed by recalled former City Council members Don Bankhead, Dick Jones, and Pat McKinley, who regularly rubber stamped high density housing projects in Fullerton. Larry Bennett can also boast of receiving $ 100.00 from the Assoc. of Builders and Contractors PAC of So Cal and $ 100.00 from Crane Architectural Group, a local firm who capitalized on Redevelopment funding to build structures like this one:

Painful to look upon...

Painful to look upon…

At least incumbent Mayor Doug Chaffee was honest enough to plainly identify the DCCSP as a replacement for Redevelopment as a mechanism to attract outside investment in Fullerton, which brings us around to who really wants the DCCSP, piecemeal or not, and who they are willing to support to make sure they get it in some form. Developers develop, and the more land is re-zoned for their residential high rises, the more money they make. More people equals more tax dollars, and that’s what City Hall really wants, even if it degrades the quality of your life here.

When Jane Rands first began asking questions about the DCCSP over three years ago, it wasn’t even on the radar screens of other candidates in the City Council race. But the winds have shifted. Public forums organized by her with Friends for a Livable Fullerton put enough pressure on the City Council to delay a vote on the DCCSP until more notice is given to residents and more time can be spent studying the plan. Not surprisingly, Ms. Rands has accepted no campaign contributions from the building industry.

The DCCSP isn’t dead yet, and City Hall isn’t about to let it go without a fight. Who do you trust to defend the interests of Fullerton residents in this fight? Candidates who are taking big bucks from the building industry, or a grassroots activist supported by ordinary people like you and me?

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