Archives for posts with tag: Core and Corridors Plan

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?

Seven candidates, including two incumbents, have filed papers to run for two open seats on the Fullerton City Council. The election takes place on November 4, with vote by mail ballots available a month earlier.

The field consists of Jane Rands, Sean Paden, Doug Chaffee, Greg Sebourn, Larry Bennett, Rick Alvarez, and Bill Chaffee.

Let’s take a look at who they are and who they are likely to serve if elected, ladies first.

Jane Rands

Jane Rands

Jane Rands is a software engineer who was the top vote getter of candidates not funded by either developers or the police or fire union in the Nov. 2012 General Election. Other than Doug Chaffee, she is the only candidate in this race with a record of opposing 2012’s Measure W, Chevron’s plan to develop Coyote Hills. She is a board member of the Friends of Coyote Hills.

She is also a co-founder of the Police Oversight Proposal Committee (POPC), who formulated a plan for civilian oversight of the Fullerton Police Department in the aftermath of the killing of Kelly Thomas by FPD officers.

She was recently a member of the city’s Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan (DCCSP) Advisory Committee, but is working with Friends for a Livable Fullerton‘s Jane Reifer to organize residents and business owners opposed to the plan’s fast-tracking of high density development in some parts of Fullerton. Jane Rands currently serves on and is a past chair of the Bicycle Users Subcommittee, where she has worked to ensure that the city holds true to a vision of increased mobility and safety for cycling on Fullerton streets. She opposed the closing of the Hunt Branch Library. She has contributed stories to the Fullerton Observer.

Sean Paden

Sean Paden

Former Planning Commissioner Sean Paden, who also ran in 2012, is a construction attorney known for his critical stance on the city’s unfunded pension liability. His refreshingly direct statement calls out the city for increasing water fees while water pipes “burst from neglect.” He suggests instituting a 401K retirement plan for future city employees as a solution to the current budget busting pension plans. He is a current member of the Design Review Committee.

Sean Paden has also been active with POPC. He was instrumental in drafting and presenting an proposed civilian oversight ordinance, ultimately rejected by the City Council, available as a separate page on the Rag. He contributes to the Fullerton Association of Concerned Taxpayers (FACT) website. He supported Measure W in 2012.

Doug Chaffee

Doug Chaffee

Currently serving as mayor for 2014, Attorney Doug Chaffee ran three times before finally being elected in a recall election he did not seem to support. He opposed Measure W in that election, and is the only member of the City Council who actively supports saving Coyote Hills from development (or “overdevelopment,” as he has frequently said in the past). No other current Council member has shown leadership on the impasse between Chevron’s continuing plans for residential and commercial development on the site and the decisive vote against development by over 60% of Fullerton voters two years ago.

Doug Chaffee has also championed the need for a local homeless shelter, working with county officials to open one just over the border in Anaheim. However, he has resisted any meaningful oversight of the troubled Fullerton Police Department, preferring instead to outsource the job to the Office of Independent Review, and going so far as to don a police union sponsored “I (Love) Fullerton Police” t-shirt on the Council dais in 2012.

Greg Sebourn

Greg Sebourn

Current Mayor Pro Tem Greg Sebourn, a land surveyor, ran as a no-nonsense guardian of the public treasury in 2012, one of three candidates backed by the Recall election’s organizer and financier Tony Bushala. Mr. Bushala has since declined to support him, largely over his vote against seeking an outside bid for police services from the OC Sheriff’s Department shortly after taking office (Mr. Bushala appears to have effectively exited the entire political scene at this time). The position endeared Mr. Sebourn to the police union at the time, but it’s hard to imagine them backing him for office when there are other more pliable candidates in the race. Later, he voted with the majority to contract with the Office of Independent Review to provide periodic audits of the police department when it became obvious that there were not enough votes to adopt POPC’s civilian oversight ordinance.

Greg Sebourn opposed the water rate formula (supported by Council members Jennifer Fitzgerald, Doug Chaffee, and Jan Flory) that was designed to retain an inflated portion of the illegal water surcharge that had been funneled into the general fund for years. He also opposed closing the Hunt Branch Library, along with Bruce Whitaker, while the aforementioned trio supported temporarily leasing the facility to neighboring Grace Ministries International. He supported Measure W in 2012.

Larry Bennett

Larry Bennett

Former Planning Commissioner Larry Bennett, a financial planner, is essentially an old guard candidate endorsed by many of the same people who tried to keep Don Bankhead, Dick Jones, and Pat McKinley in office two years ago. Voters can decide for themselves whether or not his management of the disastrously ineffective Anti-Recall campaign lends credibility to his administrative abilities, although he can hardly be blamed for losing an election on behalf of such an unpopular and oblivious trio. He pledges to fix Fullerton’s roads and sidewalks and to make pensions sustainable, but is endorsed by the same recalled Council members who helped to cause these same problems. He supported Measure W in 2012.

Rick Alvarez

Rick Alvarez

Current Planning Commissioner Rick Alvarez, who owns a security business, has recently been spotted at both Republican and Democrat meetings looking for support. In 2012 he bizarrely suggested that warehouses ought to be built on West Coyote Hills instead of houses, offering a solution that pleased nobody. It’s hard to figure out exactly why he is running, but he has gained the support of the Fullerton Firefighters Association (union), who have so far contributed $5,000 to his campaign. He was backed by the police union two years ago to the tune of $30,000 in independent expenditures on his and Jan Flory’s behalf. He supported Measure W in 2012.

(Sorry, no picture of Bill Chaffee available)

Bill Chaffee, who lists no profession and did not file a statement, is the brother of Doug Chaffee. It is anyone’s guess why he is running for a City Council seat, although he has publicly criticized his brother in the past. There will be conspiracies about people putting him up to it to confuse voters, to be sure, but the Rag hasn’t seen or heard any evidence to support any theory other than that he decided to do it on his own. His stance on Measure W in 2012 is unknown.

We’ll follow these campaigns in greater detail in the weeks to come, but the best advice the Rag can give is to pay close attention to who is funding each candidate. Can a Council member be objective about a development proposal if they’ve accepted campaign contributions from a landowner or builder? What about signing off on a labor agreement with a union that has contributed money?

With the apparent exit of Tony Bushala from politics, the only real kingmakers now are the police and fire unions, developers, and wealthy landowners who generally want zoning changes like the DCCSP that allow for more development on their properties.  Elected officials like Ed Royce and Sharon Quirk-Silva also play a role by offering endorsements that carry weight with different swaths of the electorate, as do the endorsements of the OC Register and the Fullerton Observer.

If you want to see someone succeed who isn’t beholden to big monied interest groups, then be prepared to contribute time and money to that candidate or risk getting an unresponsive City Council more interested in pleasing the special interests who finance their campaigns than listening to Fullerton’s residents.

20140805-215757-79077443.jpg

9:55 pm

The Fullerton City Council is currently meeting at the Fullerton Public Library’s Public Conference Center instead of City Hall next door. There is no live broadcast of the meeting, although it will be available as a video recording on the city’s website in a few days. The recording will not be broadcast later on television.

The City Council had not yet taken up the Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan. During the public comments period of the meeting, City Council candidate Jane Rands suggested that some council members may need to recuse themselves from participating in the proceedings. Mayor Chaffee did not address her concerns at that time.

10:40 pm

The City Council is taking a short break before taking up the Core and Corridors Specific Plan. Stay tuned…

10:55 pm

To make a long story short, the City Council has decided to continue the entire item to a date uncertain. The Rag calls that a victory for now.

11:10

City Manager Joe Felz explained that the deadlines associated with approval have gone away. The grant that funded the DCCSP can be certified without any timeline dependent on the council approving the plan, or not.

City Attorney Dick Jones suggested that Mayor Chaffee and Council Member Fitzgerald may not have to recuse themselves from the discussion and vote because the general community interest would allow for a variation (more on that idea later). He suggested consulting the FPPC about the issue. One wonders why no one had thought to do so already.

7,000 notices will go out in the mail to alert property owners in the plan areas about the next meeting, whenever it is scheduled, as they ought to have been for tonight’s meeting.

October was mentioned as a possible month for the meeting.

Good night, and thanks for reading. More on the DCCSP and issues of recusal in the coming days.

 

%d bloggers like this: