Matthew Leslie

For years running up to her current run for City Council, Fullerton Mayor Doug Chaffee’s wife Paulette Marshall Chaffee has been turning up at every sort of public meeting and reception imaginable, but it’s a rare occasion when she takes to the mic to say anything. During an August 8 meeting of the Fullerton City Council she actually spoke about Pathways of Hope‘s contentious plan to build permanent supportive housing for single homeless people at 1600 W. Commonwealth Ave., on land currently owned by the city itself, next to a compressed natural gas fueling facility near the City Yard at Commonwealth and Basque.

Over a dozen and a half people, mostly residents who live near the proposed development, spoke out in opposition to it during the meeting’s public comment period (the project wasn’t on the council agenda that night). They were concerned about possible dangers associated with living near a complex meant to house people they perceived to be ill-behaved or even potentially violent. At least one resident was worried that his property value would drop. Other speakers tried to ameliorate the residents’ concerns, explaining that calling it a “homeless shelter” was inaccurate and that the whole purpose of the enterprise was to take people off the streets and get them housed. There was even an offer by an entrepreneur to purchase the property and build some sort of biotech company on the land instead. He promised the business would employ Fullerton residents. And then, nearly* at the end of the long line, came Paulette Marshall Chaffee, who recently moved into the 5th District to run for Fullerton City Council in November.

Referencing a similar development proposal from recent past, Ms. Marshall Chaffee explained that over three years ago the Community of Friends held a series of public meetings where residents and a developer could share ideas, and decided not to build a supportive housing complex on their original preferred site at 1501 W. Commonwealth (not far, across the street, from the proposed Pathways project), and eventually decided to locate it on West Orangethorpe. Referring to Fullerton Heights, now located just east of Raymond, she said it took quite a bit of time to work out the complex layers of financing to finally build what she called a “beautiful building next to the ARCO on Orangethorpe Ave.” that will open in October. She said she thought “all of us were really happy at the way this progressed,” referring to the multi-storey structure, which is now located next to a gas station instead of near residential neighborhoods. Rag readers will recall that the site had to have its zoning changed by the City Council from “industrial” to accommodate the project.

She sagely continued, “It takes give and take, it takes meetings. I was in attendance at a lot of those meetings. I’m in attendance now at the meetings of the Ad Hoc Committee as to potential uses of the Hunt Branch, and a lot of give and take, and there are nine people that are giving of their time, a lot of public comments, and they’re looking at funding sources and I think this is part of what Fullerton is all about, and I want to see this continue”

And then she gave a “shout out” for the Annual Taco Festival on August 18 and “kudos” (twice) to Parks and Rec for holding a Health and Wellness meeting at the Community Center.

Listening to the recording above, one finds that nowhere in her somewhat rambling comments does she manage to take a position on the issue of whether or not a housing complex for people in need should be built where it has been proposed to be built. Are nearby residents being callous toward those in need of housing and unduly concerned about the potential for dangerous interactions with them? Or are they just being protective of their children, and objecting to a multi-storey development near their neighborhood of single family homes? You won’t hear Paulette Marshall Chaffee offering any opinion.¬†Candidates for City Council can “attend” as many meetings as they want to, but not taking a stand on an important issue is not a way to convince anyone that they deserve to wield executive power, and telling people that they can work out their differences is a sure sign of a politician afraid to alienate voters in election season.

*The delusional, sanctimonious leader of Fullerton’s paranoid Grand Conspiracy contingent generally tries to get in the final wacky word on any random issue before the Fullerton City Council by lurking on the sidelines (often with a camera) until everyone else has spoken, in this instance spoiling Ms. Marshall Chaffee’s¬†efforts to sum it all up by saying nothing at all..