Archives for posts with tag: Fullerton City Councl


Right where you park now for free, on public land.

The proposed downtown high density development formerly known as Amerige Court returns with a new name Monday night, December 12, 6:00 p.m. at the Fullerton Public Library’s Community Room (353 W. Commonwealth Avenue).

Amerige Court was supposed to be a set of six story residential and retail buildings with accompanying parking structures on either side West Amerige Ave. just west of Harbor Blvd.—you know, that place where you park your car for free now. Documents and a timeline from the long, long history of this project, now called Amerige something or other (I can’t find it), can be found at this link on the city’s own website:

The first date you will find listed is in 2006, when formal plans were made public, but the project actually began as a drawing made on behalf of Fullerton’s own Redevelopment Agency years before right around the time the downtown area was being transformed into a bar district. That’s right, the city itself came up with the idea of building on its (our) own parking lots downtown, then went looking for a developer to build something there that was originally supposed to provide more parking there for the businesses.

A project by the Pelican-Laing group was approved by the Fullerton City Council in 2008, but the final plan actually represented a net loss in parking. Of course, the architecture was a cartoonish mishmash of trendy faux urbane fake brick and stucco familiar to anyone who looks up while driving around OC these days. It was just one of the objections that led to a petition bearing the signatures of over four hundred residents against the project that was wordlessly set aside without comment before the vote was taken. (One Fullerton resident who spoke out against the plan was none other than Karen Haluza, now Fullerton’s Director of Community Development, who argued that it was bad planning to put parking squarely in the middle of the downtown district.)

The good news was that Pelican-Laing couldn’t get anything done with the plan. After several years and successive amendments meant to give the developer more and more time to build something, even some of the council members had had enough, but they were outvoted by the later-recalled Don Bankhead, Pat McKinley, and Dick Jones, M.D.

Amerige Court Circus

Amerige Court in 2008, a pile of junk no one wanted on land given away to the developer.

Scarcely a month after the 2012 Recall a new public parking structure had been built just south of the site on Santa Fe Ave. to accommodate daytime train commuters across the street, but it began to look like it would also serve handily as extra parking for the now burgeoning bar and restaurant crowd at night. Neat trick, but with over 800 new spaces now available, what was the rationale for Amerige Court, again?

More time passed, and two more extensions were eventually passed by the council to give the developer even more time to get something off the ground, even though no one really seemed to want anything there except for the Chamber of Commerce and its cheerleaders, and the developers who contribute to the campaigns of council members…It wasn’t even clear during the last extension hearing whether or not some members of the council understood that the development rights has been sold by this time to the Richman Group, themselves responsible for other utterly forgettable high density residences around town.

Which brings us back to a new beginning for the project that no one wants—a public meeting to find out how much we don’t want it, and how high we don’t want it to be, and what we don’t want it to look like. Be there. There are other massive high density housing/retail projects in the pipeline or already built in Fullerton, but Amerige Court is special because it would be built on public land—your land. And if you don’t want that public land given away to a developer to build something huge and ugly, you ought to let them know at every available opportunity.



Destruction of public property…

In the early morning hours following election celebrations in downtown Fullerton, City Manager Joe Felz drove his car over a curb in a residential neighborhood, mowing down a young tree in the parkway and leaving pieces of his vehicle there. According to neighbors, he eventually freed the car from the curb and drove it down the street for a short distance, effectively leaving the scene of an accident that involved damage to public property. The police who responded to the call of a concerned neighbor described him as emitting an odor of alcohol. The Chief of Police, set to retire just two days later, was called. He reportedly gave instructions for a field sobriety test, which Mr. Felz reportedly passed. No other test for alcohol inebriation was given, as far as we know, and Mr Felz was driven to his nearby home, evidently without any legal citation.

Although a final report of the incident is supposed to be forthcoming (?), the circumstances raise too many questions for Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald to remain silent. Residents may reasonably ask whether or not the City Manager was given special treatment by the outgoing Chief of Police, or by the officers at the scene, who would certainly not have called the Chief if just about anyone else had been discovered in similar circumstances. In light of unconfirmed reports that those officers were not happy about driving Mr. Felz home without further action, an independent investigation is needed, including a review of the officers’ body cams.

Now that the story has been picked up by the news media, including KCAL 9 News, who aired a segment about it last night, Mayor Fitzgerald needs to make a statement about what the city intends to do to reassure Fullerton residents that the situation will be resolved in a fair, just, and transparent manner. Four years ago three members of the Fullerton City Council, including sitting Mayor Dick Jones, were swept from office for their inadequate response to a more serious, but similarly disconcerting incident, when a man was effectively beaten to death by officers of the Fullerton Police Department for no evident reason. A perceived lack of action on the part of city officials left Fullerton under national scrutiny while Chief of Police Michael Sellers embarked on a vacation.

As of today, Fullerton has no Chief of Police because Michael Sellers’ replacement Dan Hughes has left the position to go work for Disneyland. His interim replacement will be named by City Manager Joe Felz. This arrangement is intolerable under the present circumstances, and the Mayor and City Council of Fullerton need to communicate what they are going to do about it, now.

Matthew Leslie

District elections Map # 8A splits the entire downtown residential district into five separate pieces, an idea so obviously stupid that the bar owner map’s supporters had to line up a veritable parade of stooges to speak in its favor during last Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Many of these speakers had something to gain from the scheme, as we’ll see in later parts of this story. Others, well, one has to question both the judgment and humanity of whoever put Don Bankhead up this task.

Mr. Bankhead made a rare appearance in the chambers he occupied as a councilman and mayor for so many decades, “over thirty years,” he claimed that night, even though he served for only 24 years.

We begin this clip with Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald, who couldn’t keep the exasperation from her face as Mr. Bankhead approached the podium and then began his comments with an audible grunt. Next, Jan Flory and Don Bankhead shared a chuckle about who was going to kill him first, Ms. Flory or his wife, if he ran for office again. My money is on Jan Flory.

Mr. Bankhead unintentionally made a terrible argument against district elections by opining that things ran pretty well the old way, without districts, presumably when he was on the council. He followed it with a pretty good argument for the proposed new system by noting that “the only benefit” candidates would receive would be that they would only have to walk their respective districts during election season, and not the entire city, as he recalled having done when he ran for office. Somehow, I don’t imagine Don Bankhead knocking on doors in every part of the city. I never saw him at my door.

Throughout his comments he repeatedly confused the names of maps 2B, the map supported by Kitty Jaramillo and others, and 8A, which he was obviously supposed to support. The twice-recalled former councilman voiced his support for map “2A,” though there was no such map before the council that night. Even when queried by Jan Flory and then corrected by Jennifer Fitzgerald, Mr. Bankhead tragicomically stuck to his guns, insisting that “2A” was “the one that we’re here to talk about.” In other words, it was just like old times, when he was serving on the council, but without the highlighted script for him this time.

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