Archives for posts with tag: Historic Preservation

A new website to save the Hunt Branch Library is now online. Community members are encouraged to follow www.savethehunt.com 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.

Angelos Street View

Angelo’s & Vinci’s: will the city demolish it to provide parking for it?

Matthew Leslie

 

Anyone who attended the joint Fullerton City Council and Planning Commission Study Session on the Fox Block Tuesday night might be tempted to believe that time is cyclical, or in Nietzsche’s concept of the Eternal Return (“I’ll have to sit through the Ice Capades again,” joked Woody Allen). Didn’t we all, at some time in the not too distant past, watch Pelican-Laing’s Dick Hamm pitch his mundane ideas for developing some city-owned property or other, like Amerige Court? And didn’t we all see “architectural” renderings depicting some sort of contest to see how many boxy stucco structures could be crammed into the block surround the Fullerton’s historic Fox Theater just a few years ago?

Yes, we did, but then Dick Hamm and Pelican-Laing were hired last year to pitch ideas for what to do with the so-called Fox Block, currently stranded in post Redevlopment limbo, and Tuesday night we all got to see and hear their best efforts, which were less than inspiring, to say the least.

Despite the mind numbing sense of deja vu, the evening was somehow still full of surprises. Pelican-Laing had four proposals in their report, presented by the perpetually tanned Mr. Hamm, and two of them included buying and demolishing Angelo’s & Vinci’s Ristorante. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. Half of Dick Hamm’s four proposed scenarios for development on the Fox Block site were at least partially predicated on buying and leveling the restaurant whose parking agreement with the city is given as the very reason for building anything on the site in the first place.

Before we decide just how far off into the clouds this effort has ascended, let’s quickly review the four possible development options, as presented by Mr. Hamm:

  1. A parking structure on the big rectangular part of the L-shaped parking lot south of Ellis Place.
  1. A parking structure plus a mixed use, two and one half-storey development on the triangular parking lot north of the A & V’s, and a two-storey office building, residential, and/or mixed use building on the Chapman/Pomona corner site.
  1. A parking structure, residential condos, and a retail courtyard on Harbor, with possible development on the triangle and Pomona sites.
  1. A parking structure, an eight screen movie theater with retail on Harbor.

Even Mr. Hamm and Pelican-Laing’s report make it clear that they do not favor # 4, the movie theater proposal, but # 3 was taken seriously by the some of the elected and appointed officials that night, leaving stunned audience members to speculate about the real motives behind the whole effort to develop around the Fox Fullerton in the first place.

We also had to wonder why, if Angelo’s & Vinci’s was fair game for a purchase to make room for development, the recently renovated McDonald’s was not. After all, just a few years ago the city was seriously contemplating spending $ 6 million to move the fast food restaurant from its present location, inconveniently in the middle of the southern boundary of the site, to a more development-friendly location on the southeast corner of Chapman and Pomona. No one had a ready answer to that question.

Although the proceedings were characterized as a Study Session, the city planning staff nonetheless sought guidance from the council about which scenarios to seriously consider. Mayor Whitaker conducted an informal straw poll of the five council members and the six present members of the Planning Commission. Even a straw poll, however, seemed out of order for an item designated “Receive and File.”

DCCSP-Map

Too big, too soon.

Update: The agenda for the Fullerton City Council meeting of August 5 does indeed show it to be taking place at in the new Public Conference Center at the library next to City Hall. There will be NO LIVE BROADCAST of the meeting if it is held there.

This Tuesday, August 5, the Fullerton City Council will hold the first public hearing to consider the Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan (DCCSP). If adopted, the DCCSP would represent a huge change in the way properties located along parts of Euclid, Harbor, Commonwealth, Orangethrope, Raymond, and other major streets can be developed. But the larger density projects that would be allowed under the plan would affect all of Fullerton.

The meeting begins at 6:30, but the DCCSP will probably not be heard before 7:00, at least. There is no definite word yet about whether the meeting will be held in the City Council chambers, recently closed for renovations, or the Community Room next door at the library. If the Council Chambers are not yet ready, there will be no live broadcast of the City Council considering the biggest specific plan in Fullerton’s history, in the middle of the vacation season.

The Planning Commission heard the DCCSP in two meetings in July. On July 23 the Planning Commissiion, with at two of its members absent, voted to approve the plan. Some members had serious reservations about various parts of the plan, and, after much discussion amongst themselves and comments from the attending public, voiced oppositiion to the DCCSP. However, rather than stand their ground against Fullerton’s planning staff and the deveopers and land owners who will financially benefit from the DCCSP’s sweeping zoning changes and density allowances, these initially courageous commissioners ultmiately chose to vote in favor of the plan, with the caveat that their concerns would be noted to the City Council.

The idea behind the DCCSP is to prepare for population growth by adopting a comprehensive set of zoning changes ahead to time instead of having to deal with small areas and projects on a case by case baisis over the coming decades. It may make sense, in some ways, on a conceptual level, but what’s actually in the plan for some of the 13 plan areas is an allowance for higher density development without mitigation for more traffic or, in some cases, even the public review such projects would otherwise be required to undergo before being built.

Despite being funded by a Sustainable Communities Planning Grant, the plan acknowledges that there is simply no way to improve mobility at several already choked intersections, and doesn’t provide for any mass transportation options as an alternative to more drivers on the road. Bells and whistles like landscaped medians aren’t going to do much for anyone’s daily commute, made worse by the addition of new residents’ vehicles. The assumption that more residents will work closer to their jobs if we increase housing density doesn’t hold much water when businesses areas are re-zoned for housing, forcing them away from residences. And when was the last time you heard of OCTA expanding bus service?

In short, the DCCSP looks like a huge giveaway to developers of mixed-use retail and housing projects intended to provided a higher property tax base for the city coffers. It should be either broken up into smaller plan areas to be considered idividually over a longer period of time, or dispensed with entirely. The Fullerton City Council should have the courage to do what the Planning Commssion would not—stand up to wealthy land owners and insatiable developers and stand up for Fullerton’s residents instead.

Logo of Friends for a Livable Fullerton

Protect Fullerton’s residents, not big developers.

 

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