Archives for posts with tag: Fullerton History

A new website to save the Hunt Branch Library is now online. Community members are encouraged to follow the site for news about efforts to keep the city from selling this unique facility for a quick buck.

The Hunt Branch Library building is a significant mid-century modernist structure owned by the City of Fullerton. We believe it is in imminent danger of being sold, and have organized a group of private citizens to ensure that the building remains in the hands of the people of Fullerton, and used to benefit the community.

The William Pereira designed Hunt Branch Library was a gift to the City of Fullerton from the Norton Simon Foundation in 1962. For decades it served as only one of two branches of the Fullerton Public Library, until being closed in 2013 and eventually  leased to neighboring Grace Ministries International (GMI) for $ 1,500.00 per month. This arrangement was said to be temporary while GMI renovated their adjacent headquarters, the former Hunt Food & Industries headquarters, also designed by Pereira. However, the lease has continued through 2018.  When the lease was approved, the public was promised that the city would support efforts to obtain historic preservation status for the structure, but such protection has not yet occurred.

Instead, at least one member of the Fullerton City Council, current Mayor Doug Chaffee, has repeatedly said that he favors selling the library, and there is reason to believe that at least one other council member supports the idea. It would only take three members of the council to approve a sale. We adamantly oppose the inclusion of the Hunt building on a list of city properties to be considered for sale, and urge it’s immediate removal from this list.

We believe that the Hunt Library building can be used in any number of ways to directly benefit the community for many years to come. This precious gift to our city should not be thrown away for a one time windfall. We invite you to join us by following this blog and contacting us to become involved in this effort to preserve an architectural gem and an irreplaceable community asset.


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.


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


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.


It wouldn’t hurt to pave the streets either.




The plan covers 1,310 acres, over 9% of all of the land in Fullerton.

Tonight’s meeting of Fullerton’s Planning Commission includes an update on the Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan, aka DCCSP, a plan being developed by an outside consultant hired by the City of Fullerton.


The consultant team will provide a project update and solicit comments and suggestions regarding scope and content of the EIR to be prepared for the proposed project. The DCCSP area encompasses 1,310 acres and spans the commercial core and corridors across the City of Fullerton.”

1,310 acres accounts for over 9% of all of the land in Fullerton. This specific plan represents a major change to the way large amounts of property in the city will be allowed to develop in the coming decades.

According to Fullerton Planning Forum, the city’s public portal to planning projects, the DCCSP “will guide the transformation of the area into thriving and sustainable districts and neighborhoods that meet the diverse needs of residents, businesses, employees and visitors.

The specific plan promises:

“Better landscaping, lighting and sidewalks.
– Improved public spaces.
– Improved connections to our neighborhoods.
– Enhanced city gateways.
Thriving stores, restaurants and businesses.”

(The description on the Fullerton Planning Forum site sets the number of acres covered by the study at approximately 1100; somehow it has grown by over 200 acres…).

Who would argue with better lighting, thriving stores, and improved public spaces? At the first public meeting about the study, many residents expressed a desire for improved parks in their neighborhoods, but some rightly questioned where the money would come from to pay for them. The DCCSP doesn’t provide funding for anything.

Setting aside for a moment that the “improvements” may not be what you or I have in mind, what we really need to focus on are the “Improved connections to our neighborhoods,” because what the DCCSP is really about is facilitating high density development on Commonwealth Ave. and other major streets in the city.

You won’t find any link to even a Draft of the plan itself on the Planning Commission Agenda, but here is a link to a general description of the project:

Some time ago, before the study commenced, then-Community Development Director Al Zelinka told me that the impetus for the project came from inquiries by land owners who wanted to develop properties on Commonwealth Ave., but were restricted to building one storey projects. The intent, in part, at least, is to adopt changes to the current zoning code to allow for two or three storey (or more?) high density residential or mixed use developments on these properties that directly border streets with residential single family homes.

The purpose of tonight’s item is to solicit input from the Planning Commission for the plan’s Environmental Impact Study (EIR) to prepare the plan for eventual presentation to the Planning Commission, and finally, the City Council. But over the past two years members of the city’s planning staff have repeatedly presented high density residential developments along Euclid, Orangethorpe, and other streets as being consistent with the DCCSP, even though the plan has never been approved by anyone, and isn’t even finished.


Expect more of this kind of thing near you.

The impact of these projects on nearby neighborhoods should be a source of primary concern for residents of the city. More development can be expected to bring more traffic to smaller streets and avenues designed for single family neighborhoods. The DCCSP bears close scrutiny because, although it was funded by a Sustainable Communities Planning Grant, it is already being used to promote higher density projects without the transportation alternatives to make them sustainable or the promised improved public spaces.

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