Archives for posts with tag: Fullerton Heritage

Mar-1

Despite all of the purported protections and guidelines accorded historic properties in Fullerton, the owners of the 1929 Spanish style bungalow apartments have replaced half of thier divided wooden windows with single glass panel vinyl frames. The too-cute-for-words Mariola Apartments have graced the 500 block of East Commonwealth for 85 years, surviving intact in an age of overdevelopment because through the decades at least someone knew how special they were, and made sure they stayed that way. Until now…

The City of Fullerton’s website features the apartments as a Significanct Property in its Historic Resources section:

“No major alterations are apparent, and the property has been maintained in excellent condition since the current owner, Vincent Mariola, purchased it in 1970.”

That all changed sometime last month when the beautiful arched wooden windows in the units on the west side of the property were replaced with contemporary white vinyl ones.

Mar-3

Fortunately, the wooden windows on the east side remain, for now.

Mar-2

Vinyl windows may appeal to homeowners tired of painting wooden frames, but they are the nemesis of historic preservationists. Even though subsidies exist to encourage their installatioin because they can be better insulated, owners of properties in historic Residential Preservation Zones are usually constrained from installing them because they so significantly alter the appearance of otherwise well preserved older homes and apartments (wooden windows can be made double paned also, to provide better insulation). Unfortunatley, despite being cited as a prime example of Spanish Colonial architecture of the period by the city, the Mariola Apartments are not in a Residential Preservation Zone.

Perthaps if Fullerton participated in the State of California’s Mills Act owners of local historic properties would have more incentive to appropriately preserve them. The Mills Act allows cities to give property tax breaks to landowners “if they pledge to rehabilitate and maintain the historical and architectural character of their properties for at least a ten-year period.” The contract is renewable.

Unlike Fullerton, other Orange County cities like Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange, Tustin, Laguna Beach, and San Clemente all participate in the Mills Act, presumably because they “recognize the economic benefits of conserving resources and reinvestment as well as the important role historic preservation can play in revitalizing older areas, creating cultural tourism, building civic pride, and retaining the sense of place and continuity with the community’s past.”

It’s time for Fullerton to embrace the Mills Act before more historic properties are compromised or done away with entirely.

Mar-4

It wouldn’t hurt to pave the streets either.

 

 

Amerige-Court-South-Elevation

Flying the flag of mediocrity for all to see.

Amerige Court is back. This project is so old that no current member of the Fullerton City Council was even there when it was originally approved. At that time, despite objections from Fullerton residents that the buildings were over-scaled, badly designed, and just unnecessary, the city council voted to allow developer Pelican-Laing to build six (or seven, depending on how they were counted) storey mixed use retail and residential buildings that would tower over the historic downtown storefronts.

Since 2006, not only have we had a complete turnover of members of the Fullerton City Council, but John Laing Homes, the Laing part of Pelican/Laing, has filed for Chapter 11, leaving Pelican to try to raise financing for this monstrosity nobody wants.

Amerige-Court-North-Elevation

How many squares can you count?

The project was originally sold the public as a way to get a private developer to provide more free parking for the downtown businesses. But by the time the project had been redesigned, it actually represented a net loss of parking. The residential units were supposed to be for sale only, providing the stability of an owner occupied populace to quiet things down in the bar district. Later revisions, however, allowed the developer to rent out the apartments and lofts. No owners, no more parking, no benefits to anyone other than a slick developer, but that didn’t stop the City Council from approving extension after extension up until two years ago, when the public were assured that Pelican would finally line up financing, and should be given the chance to do so. At that time, even Dick Jones argued against granting a two year extension, preferring a one year extension, but he eventually went along with the rest of the herd anyway and voted for the full two year plan.

There is a history of the project on the city’s website. (It ends in 2009—even the city planners must have gotten tired of looking at it.)

AmerigeCourt-1

Still, a giant answer in search of a question…who really wants it?

In 2012 Pelican guaranteed itself a two year extension of its Development Agreement with the City of Fullerton by greasing the wheels with contributions to the anti-Recall campaign of then Councilmembers Don Bankhead, Dick Jones, and Pat McKinley. Councilmember Bruce Whitaker and then-Councilmember Sharon Quirk-Silva voted against the extension.

And here we are today, eight years after it’s original approval, with the “Fifth Amendment to the Disposition and Development Agreement Between the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency (which no longer exists!) and Pelican/Laing Fullerton, LLC, (which no longer exists either!) Regarding the Sale and Development of Certain Real Property Located Along the North and South Sides of the 100 Block of West Amerige Avenue.

The staff report is replete with excuses made about the state of the economy and the disposition of former Redevelopment Agency dissolution legislation and its aftermath. Project Manager Charles Kovac, formerly of the now defunct Fullerton Redevelopment Agency, finally recommends the adoption of the amendment “in the interest of moving the project forward (!),” as if that is our problem—to make sure a horribly designed, unneeded giveaway mega-development with no independent financing should be able to move forward! Remember, this is Public Land being given away.

And the city government is so arrogant about the issue that they’ve placed it on the Consent Calendar, and not scheduled it as a public hearing. Unless a member of the City Council or the attending public asks to have the item pulled for discussion, it will pass without even a public hearing. Oh, and it will cost us $ 5,000.00 for the privilege of giving the developer more of our time and money to waste.

In contradistinction to the recommendation of Fullerton’s Planning staff, The Fullerton Rag recommends that The Fullerton City Council reject this Fifth Amendment, and let the project expire. Instead, either let the area alone and preserve the parking that exists, or, if there is some demonstrable benefit to the people of Fullerton who own this land, open up the process for another developer with a better project and the financing to build it.

Mayor Bruce Whitaker continues his monthly “Talk Around Town” dialogue with constituents at Hillcrest park Tuesday evening. Regular public meetings are something of a tradition for Fullerton’s more responsive mayors. This series has become an especially lively forum for interested residents to discuss timely issues with the Mayor, each other, and attending city staff. Last month Bruce Whitaker began his September talk at the shuttered Hunt Branch library by arguing against leasing the closed facility to a neighboring church, a proposal reportedly initiated by the City Manager’s office.

Hillcrest-Whitaker

Divisions between the city’s professional administration and Mayor Whitaker were further evident that evening in his statements that city staffers exhibited “barely tolerable levels of patience with council members sometimes,” and that “they resent the fact that five members of the community are elected” to represent the public. We can only hope that the next mayor, chosen by fellow City Council members in December, will be as frank and honest in his or her remarks.

Hillcrest Park will mark the third consecutive historic site chosen for the monthly Talk Around Town. The park itself has been the subject of some controversy in recent years with the development of the Hillcrest Park Master Plan, approved over two years ago by the City Council.

During the planning process residents of the surrounding neighborhood formed their own committee to provide input beyond that of the officially sanctioned Hillcrest Master Plan Ad Hoc Committee. We might expect attendance on Oct. 22 by members of the community concerned with the future of the park and the potential effects of the plan on it and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Talk About Town with Mayor Bruce Whitaker:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Red Cross Building at Hillcrest Park. The Red Cross Building is located on Lemon at the corner, North of Valley View. Free parking available in front of the building. For more information: (714) 738-6311

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