“Would you support our efforts to make our neighborhood historic?”


I received this post from a Friend who wishes to remain anonymous for reasons that you may understand after you read this post.

Think historic neighborhoods. Immediately, one’s mind goes to such places such as Bungalow Heaven in Pasadena, Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia and others where houses, landscape, and layout reflect a distinct architectural coherence.

What we don’t think of is the hodgepodge of homes built over a span of more than fifty years within the boundaries of Skyline, Frances, Luanne, Canon and Lemon here in Fullerton. True, the neighborhood has a sort of charm. But this four block area (oddly denuded of trees) doesn’t fit the definition as historic.

Yet, for over twenty years, this neighborhood has been besieged by a small but persistent group to designate itself as such. The original movement came about when a neighbor (who has since moved away) decided the mix of 60’s ranch homes, 30’s Spanish Mediterranean  and 80’s boxes needed to be protected.

Why? Because the empty lot behind her house, which she had enjoyed as her own personal open space, was going to have a house built upon it.  This led to a movement asking for historical designation, with one very vociferous neighbor putting out a letter decrying such crimes as pink flamingos in yards. It ended when a flock of roving pink flamingos went from yard to yard, to rebuke this snobbishness. It was clear then, as it is now, that the historic designation is more to control everything from the color of homes, the installation of skylights, solar panels, to pink flamingos in yards.

In more recent years, the issue was raised again when a member of the Fullerton Heritage group moved into the neighborhood.  This woman could often be seen taking photographs of her neighbor’s homes. She personally crossed the boundaries of neighborliness by posting a photo of one on their website as an example of “muddled and conflicted” architecture. Battle axes were raised when during a neighborhood meeting, an argument ensued. This busybody sat in the back, mute –rendering herself all but invisible. At no point did she offer any explanation why this issue meant so much to her that she was willing to pit neighbor against neighbor.

The reasons for not wanting this ridiculous designation are simple.

1.     There’s no consistent architectural coherence in the boundaries of Lemon, Skyline, Frances, Luanne and Canon. While there are individual examples of historically significant architectural styles, as a neighborhood – it lacks consistency and coherence.

2. It would give Fullerton Heritage – and the City Planning Department far too much power over our neighborhood. Note, they already have ultimate veto power over designs submitted to the city for everything from new development to remodeling in other neighborhoods designated as a historical zone. In one neighborhood, they vetoed the homeowner’s request to install a skylight. Such oversight is petty, and subject to the changing whims of the board.

3. This will lead to more “fake old” McSpanish architecture. Another uninformed member of the Fullerton Heritage group noted at a meeting at Hillcrest Park that she thought the predominant style in the neighborhood should be “Spanish Mediterranean,” whatever that means.

4.     The $1000 fee for the designation doesn’t even begin to cover the costs of actual staff time. In addition, this doesn’t cover the costs of ordered revisions by the owner’s architects or engineers. Fees like this are never gotten rid of, rather, the fee could be raised and the neighborhood would have no control over the amount they have to pay.

5.     The city of Fullerton has a permit process already in place. This is an added layer of bureaucracy with not only more additional staff time needed, but oversight from an outside organization (Fullerton Heritage).

6.     A small cadre of neighbors has already been vociferous to the point of rudeness about things they don’t like: the color of a neighbor’s home, plantings, flamingos, and more. Worse, their gossip has hit people in ways that have become personal. While we realize they are voicing their opinion, we’d hate to give them permission to authorize or disapprove on any official level.

At some point one must work with and trust the neighbors.  Most of the neighbors who support this notion have lived in the area for 40 years without the intervention of the city. Why they think they should leave future generations with a law to be enforced long after they have enjoyed their own latitude –is for reasons of ego.  While the notion of a historic neighborhood seems appealing, in reality it is cumbersome, vague and will leave future homeowner’s with no choice but to deal with more government and bureaucracy. It was clear twenty years ago as it is now:  these people need to get a life.

All we can do is work with one another, and be neighborly but not meddlesome.

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  1. #1 by Chris Thompson on July 24, 2010

    Property rights are individual, not group. You have a right to do certain things on your property. The natural state of these rights is complete control of your property down to the center of the earth and straight up into space. Understanding that most people support some sort of zoning for practicality sake, these efforts are typically attempts by self-important individuals to impart their taste upon others. I view these efforts as a form of government endorsed theft. As a planning Commissioner I can recall the supporters of Brookdale’s preservation zone efforts opining on the character, fit, intrinsic value, blah blah blah of that neighborhood. The reality was that self-serving and in some cases jealous homeowners who probably could not afford to maximize the value of their property, wished to prevent others from doing so. The cries of these advocates hit my ears as, “that bad homeowner has made my home look pathetic with their huge home right next to mine.” They poorly-disguised their envy or sincere distaste for their neighbors’ homes with fancy words pulled from architectural textbooks, but at the end of the day, these people were willing to reduce their neighbors’ current rights. Literally reducing the buildable square footage of their lots that existed when they purchased. A man has a right to build a castle. A man does not have a right to tell his neighbor he cannot. If you don’t want to look at Mr. Plumbeans’ Big Orange Splot, then you better have enough cash to buy a very large lot.

  2. #2 by Rain on July 24, 2010

    Promoters of such “good neighborliness” should be required to first unilaterally obtain “historic status” for their OWN individual property, then “enjoy” that status (burden) for say, tweny years, before seeking to inflict their great idea onto the neighbors.

    An actual “for real” good neighbor imposes NO burden upon his neighbors, but instead takes care of his own property and minds her own business. ; – )

  3. #3 by just a guy on July 24, 2010

    I like this post, but the author forgot to name names.

  4. #4 by Joe Sipowicz on July 24, 2010

    They know who they are.

  5. #5 by van get it da artiste on July 24, 2010

    if meddlesome neighbors dislike change or seek to preserve the status quo of their street, then they may sell their houses and move into an apartment complex or condominium complex where others will dictate the color and size of a person’s property.

  6. #6 by Colony Rabble on July 24, 2010

    This is where I get bragging rights. Anaheim has a fabulous program, where our historic districts come with NO restrictions. We offer the voluntary incentive of Mills Act to encourage owners to maintain the property as historic, and shockingly we have only lost ONE historic home in over a decade! Anaheim has all the benefits of historic preservation and none of the architecture nazi attitude of some other communities. Good luck to y’all. It is a tough task to keep things cute and quaint and still honor property rights.

  7. #7 by The Desert Rat on July 24, 2010

    What’s wrong with pink flamingos?

    That heritage group went to the dogs after Bushala left and they got all chummy with the creeps in City Hall.

  8. #8 by History Major on July 25, 2010

    The writer of this post clearly has an underdeveloped sense of what makes a place historical, or even worthy of preservation. This neighborhood may or may not qualify base on the quality of architecture which does sound pretty damn marginal.

    And I don’t blame the writer one bit for resenting the annoying, under-informed design cops (NAZIs – a bit harsh, but, well, maybe not).

    The question these people never seem to ask is whether they would enjoy having some know-nothing group of busybodies telling them what to do.

    I also remember that it was these Fullerton Heritage people who were beating the drum for all the architectural monstrosities at FJC.

  9. #9 by admin on July 25, 2010

  10. #10 by English Major on July 25, 2010

    “There really is a bigger issue that falls outside the penlight illumination cast by Tom Dalton’s personal aesthetic sensibility. Isn’t it the responsibility of an academic institution to promote creative excellence and shouldn’t that ideal be enshrined in the college’s built environment? Timid and trite architectural expression seems contrary to the very mission of an academic institution.”

    Man, that’s just beautiful. Brought a tear to my eye.

  11. #11 by Who Cares on July 25, 2010

    God, I thought this was dead after that stupid meeting.
    @History Major – I would say NAZI’s is not strong enough hahahha.
    Bring on the pink Flamingo’s!!!

  12. #12 by Anonymous on July 26, 2010

    You should see my neighbor’s place! How it ended up as the Fullerton-Winchester Mini Mansion is beyond me. It isn’t fun to live beside BUT they are nice enough to leave me alone so I leave them and their monstrosity sits as a reminder of property rights at the far end of the spectrum.

  13. #13 by Anonymous on July 26, 2010

    that should read…”…so I leave them alone and their…”

  14. #14 by Common Sense on July 26, 2010

    Unlike those who enshrine “property rights” in some sort of religious shroud, I think the way people use their property in our society will always be tempered by a collective social vision of what constitutes the proper amount of government control.

  15. #15 by FF'ers on July 26, 2010

    Yeah, we know the writer and he damn well knows what makes anything historical. In this case the history major is damn well ignorant of the fact that what the players are concerned with is the architectural elements, and not necessarily anything else.

  16. #16 by History Major on July 27, 2010

    I’m not sure what your comment means, but without “historical” significance, there is no basis for the preservation of “architectural elements.”‘

    BTW, how do you know who the writer is?

  17. #17 by Who Cares on July 27, 2010

    If #number 15′s post is serious, it just one of the NAZI’s. Frankly there is no “architectural significance” in this neighborhood. However I guess if you want to inflate your ego or self importance then you will see what you want to see. Which always leads me to another question which is never answered, why just these four blocks? This area is a lot larger then just 4 blocks. And why the name Skyline Park which is floated around from time to time? Skyline is neither the main street through the area nor is this area even well know by that name, unless your a real estate agent I suppose. But I guess #15 does have one thing right when he refers to the “players.” That’s all they are, playing like little kids in the sandbox at kindergarten school whining as loud as they can. To be rude and leave no question what I think of them, I just say this to the NAZI’s. Fuck off.

  18. #18 by Leave us alone on July 27, 2010

    So sick & tired of the so called experts who think they know what’s best for me and my boyfriends home. They went so far as to give suggestions to our landscaping project, and one complained to the City, saying our fountain was a “Eye sore.” We let them know when they start paying our mortgage, then maybe their opnion will matter, until then, take your “ice cream” social’s, and go get a life. You have no chance passing this with your high & mighty attitudes! Love the pink flamingo’s. Think a few would look great near my fountain!

  19. #19 by Who Cares on July 27, 2010

    I liked your fountain.

  20. #20 by Leave us alone on July 27, 2010

    I LOVE my fountain!

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