Parks and Trails

Fullerton has many parks and trails. They are often ignored and neglected by our government.

Planned Parenthood

The wife and I were having a discussion over dinner about the pros and cons of Proposition 30, and its claim to save education from a devastating blow of the budgetary axe. Then I remembered this post I’d uploaded some time ago in 2011 about the NOCCCD’s “School of Continuing Education”, and decided to re-post it. So if you happen to be sitting on the fence with this one, well, I won’t tell you how to vote, but it might help to keep in mind how tax dollars have been spent in this particular scenario. Enjoy!

The North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD) is the proud parent of Fullerton College and its younger sibling, Cypress College. But apparently the nest wasn’t quite complete, as NOCCCD decided years ago that it wanted yet another baby, and popped out the abundantly productive School of Continuing Education (SCE) on Wilshire Blvd., across the street from Fullerton College. Amazingly, SCE has no academic courses, but has new buildings, deans and even its own Senate like a regular university!

Well, the Senate has to meet somewhere, right?

And what does this seemingly well-greased, finely-tuned bureaucracy manage to provide for the taxpayers? A substantially rich offering of classes, such as (read this carefully):

  • How to Sell on eBay
  • Digital Scrapbooking
  • Blogging for Beginners
  • Toddler Fitness
  • Raising Caring Kids
  • Bartending Workshops
  • Latin Cardio Blast
  • Journey Back into Time for Older Adults
  • Needlecrafts, Knitting, Crochet for Older Adults
  • History of Comedy and Humor for Older Adults
  • Beginning Drama for Older Adults
  • Draw and Paint Animals (ages 5+)
  • Making Yummy Snacks (ages 6-10)
  • Sing and Learn Chinese for Parent and Child (ages 0-6)
  • Cheerleading (ages 4-7)
  • Public Speaking for Children (ages 8-12)
  • Career Exploration (ages 9-12)
  • Please Pass the Manners (ages 5-7)
  • Teen Etiquette (ages 13-17)
  • Puppetry and Storytelling (ages 3-6)
  • Readiness for Kindergarten (ages 4-5)
  • How to Be a Best Friend (ages 5-8)

The bartending workshop is the best in North Orange County!

Okay, just in case this list hasn’t left you completely baffled, keep in mind that the SCE’s course offerings are funded by the North Orange County Community COLLEGE District! Do these classes have ANYTHING to do with college? Don’t offerings like these really belong in the domain of something like parks and recreation?

Meet the new freshman class of SCE!

Despite the inappropriateness of these course offerings, the Chancellor of the NOCCCD, Dr. Ned Doffoney (one can only imagine what kind of salary the title of “Doctor” delivers) continues to cradle the SCE as a fresh newborn, giving it his support and blessing as only a chancellor can do.

Meanwhile, administrators at the colleges are suggesting the cancellation of 46% of the courses that were offered this year, a move that is likely to prevent significant numbers of students from graduating and moving on to university because they need classes in chemistry, calculus and business. Well, at least we can all take comfort in knowing that senior citizens will fully comprehend the History Of Comedy, or that toddlers will know how to make Yummy Snacks!

Did somebody say Yummy Snacks?

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What Could Be Worse Than a McDonald’s in Hillcrest Park?

How about a taxpayer-subsidized McFullerton to compete with non-subsidized local eateries. It’s Fullerton. it’s Redevelopment. It’s not impossible.

Seriously, could our city council really be contemplating  a commercial restaurant in Hillcrest Park as part of the new Master Plan?

Well, why not? They’ve shown a total disregard for the park an historic resource over the years; for the Community Services Department Hillcrest Park “revitalization” has merely been an exploitation opportunity over the years, much as Downtown Fullerton has been for the Redevelopment Agency employees. So why not?

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Sunday In The Park With AD, Nelson and Berardino

I received a call this morning from our 4th District County Supervisor Shawn Nelson asking if I would be willing to help coach a youth football clinic at Craig Park. Supervisor Nelson, aware of the fact that I played high school and Division I college football and that I had coached high school and Pop Warner football, needed someone to fill an unexpected vacancy on his coaching staff.  My Sunday alternatives were to either spend the day helping 6 to 17 year olds learn a bit more about football or make more No McKinley signs. No brainer. I dusted off the old whistle and off to the park I went.

The event, billed “OC Parks and Sports Day,” was packed with eager kids with more energy than the energizer bunny. My day was not only fun and rewarding but a lot more interesting than I expected. During a break in the action I met the legendary Anthony Davis, but also the not so legendary OCEA union boss, Nick Berardino. Both were entertaining characters: AD reminisced of the days when he played smash mouth football at USC, and Berardino reminded me about the days he spent a million dollars bad mouthing Nelson in the last election,  how that million bucks only moved #2 (Harry Sidhu) up 6 percentage points, and how he still got his as kicked by 12%.

Bernardino went on to explain to me that they (the employee union) were afraid of Nelson, but have learn that Nelson is not the monster they though he would be. Nick further explained that the problem in the county is corruption in upper management and the county employees (the worker bees) are the only ones that actually pay into their retirement and the people that are on Easy Street are the upper level managers including county CEO Tom Mauk who’s package equals around $350,000 per year (while collecting over $100,00 from his retirement pension from the city of La Habra). Nick and I both agreed that it’s always the little guy that gets dumped on and the corruption in the county needs to stop. Amen to that!

Kicking back @ Craig park

Supervisor Nelson tells me that he will start checking into the pay and benefits of mid to upper management, and also find out if they actually do anything except shuffle paper back and forth to each other.

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Jessica’s Law Enforcement Ordinance Comes Up For A Vote

This just came in from city council candidate Barry Levinson:

This Tuesday night at 6:30 PM, September 21, 2010 at city hall, the culmination of 7 months of hard work by my wife Susan and myself should result in a victory for all children and their parents and grandparents, etc. in the city of Fullerton.  An ordinance presented and recommended by the Fullerton Police Department will be brought before the city council for a vote. The ordinance will make it a misdemeanor crime for a convicted pedophile to live within 2000 feet of a school, park or day care center.  The penalty is up to one year in jail!  Almost 4 years to the day that the voters in California spoke through their support of Proposition No. 87, known as Jessica’s Law will there be an actual penalty attached to the above actions.

This is just the start. I have been working with and getting the cooperation of the County District Attorney’s Office to make sure that a similar law is presented to our Orange County Board of Supervisors. We want the same protections for our kids throughout the County.

Please attend the Tuesday night meeting! Send a firm and clear message to all our current council members. A full house will provide leverage to make sure that the council does the right thing by passing this ordinance to provide additional protection for the weakest and most vulnerable among us, our kids.

-Barry Levinson

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‘Tree City’ Decapitates Trees

Todd Warden wrote in to tell us how the unsightly drainage ditch along Malvern/Chapman avenues is becoming further uglified by the city without regard for the surrounding neighborhood or the health of the landscaping.

He awoke one morning to find that the city had ordered the 30 foot tall trees hacked down to about 6 feet, while randomly selected shrubs were cut to the stump. The fully developed trees had been shielding motorists view of the ugly flood control channel and it’s rusty chain link fence for years.

Just a little off the top.

“In the past they have always just trimmed the trees back and kept the height leaving a swell green belt and noise buffer in contrast to other areas of the Malvern/Chapman eyesore,” wrote Todd. The city told him that they had no money to replant new trees and shrubs, but the mature trees were taken out anyway.

I’m no arborist, but hacking a 30ft tree by 80% seems like a great way to kill it. If the city doesn’t have the funds to replace prominent landscaping features, they ought to just leave them alone or trim them as reasonably necessary. Together, Malvern and Chapman form one of Fullerton’s main east/west arteries, and it’s a disgrace for our city to destroy what little aesthetics it has left.

A fresh view from the beautiful grounds of The Muck.

It’s worth nothing that Fullerton frequently boasts about its 29-year title of “Tree City USA” as bestowed by the Arbor Day Foundation.

That's not very good either.

As for the future of the flood control channel, Todd has some ideas:

“What about replanting the entire strip of the canal that literally splits the entire city from Buena Park to Harbor Blvd. Tall palms or low water use flowering hedges would beautify the city for residents and visitors that use the artery. Another idea would be to cover the ditch for a bike path that would allow residents and visitors to reach downtown and the Buena Park Metrolink station.”

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Where’s Our Park?

Hey, man, where's the park?

The north part of Orange County has a notorious lack of parks and open space. And while the County of Orange spends millions on its park system annually, including vast tracts of parkland in south county, and even on the Harbor Patrol in the wealthy enclave of Newport Beach, us taxpayers up north get almost nothing. We have Craig Park and Clark Park which total about 130 acres; meanwhile the County controls around 60,000 acres of park and open space counting the new Irvine Company “gift.” Now that’s just wrong.

Former 4th District Supervisor Chris Norby kept talking about this unfairness, but he never actually accomplished anything to fix the inequity. Norby’s successor Shawn Nelson also made this topic a campaign issue. Will he be able to succeed where his predecessor tapped out? Let’s hope so. The opportunity for additional parkland, and even bike trails in utility rights-of-way are there. It may not be easy, but some of us voters expect elected folks to do the hard stuff.

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News Flash From Hillcrest Park Pals

On Saturday morning from 9:00 to noon, the City of Fullerton and landscape architect Mia Leher will present two alternative master plans for the restoration/preservation of Hillcrest Park. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the picnic pavilion near the recreation center.

Mia Lehrer

Recently the north hill of Hillcrest Park was raped of it’s natural grade and historic landscape. For those of you that don’t know, the city of Fullerton Landmarks Commission is required by law to review and approve (or disapprove) of any changes to local and/or National Historic Landmarks. Hillcrest Park is both. To this day, the Fullerton Landmarks Commission has never addressed the issue of the Lyons Field renovation which included the north hill of Hillcrest Park.

This may be the last chance for real public input. If you want to be heard, the time is NOW. Please show up at the meeting on Saturday. If you can’t make it, you can still join Hillcrest Park Pals by sending an email to: HILLCRESTPARKPALS@GMAIL.COM.

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One Big Happy $23 Million Community Center

Last week, before all of the excitement about Coyote Hills and the one term history of Pam Keller, the Fullerton City Council approved the conceptual plan for a new community center.  This eighth wonder of the world is to be built right across the street from city hall and the main library.  The existing Boys and Girls Club and the Senior Center will be demolished to make room for it.

This $23 million mostly redevelopment funded project is supposed to be necessary because half of the city’s Parks and Rec programs are farmed out to other cities, and it would be so much nicer to have them under one new roof right downtown, near the new lingerie shop.  The fifty plus year old B & G Club is considered to be beyond repair and the senior center, which isn’t really that old in the grand scheme of things is somehow inadequate.  OK, so neither is an architectural masterpiece, but is it really necessary to tear them both down for this new combined community center?

The idea seems to have been to somehow “activate” the corner of Commonwealth and Highland, making it more a part of the library/city hall/police station/baseball field district.  To that end, the architect has included one of those pretty, and pretty useless medians down the center of Commonwealth, and a little welcoming plaza on the north side.  Placing the huge double gymnasium right up against Commonwealth doesn’t do much to activate the corner, however.

The kids, seniors and everyone in between can all interact as part of one big happy community, except that they still have their own buildings, just closer together than the current ones are, for more togetherness, I guess.  There is a third building they do get to share, just to teach them all a lesson.  You see, it’s a “multigenerational facility”, except that not everyone wants to be so together.

Several seniors have expressed concerns about having to be so close to boisterous young people while they are busy trying to relax with people of their own age group.  As far as I know, no youngsters have yet complained about having to be close to old people, but who knows if anyone asked them during the long, long planning process.

Kids enter from the Commonwealth entrance while seniors use an entrance from the larger, southern parking lot adjacent to the senior center.  This arrangement makes sense if no old people have to ride the bus to get there.  You see, the bus stop is way out on Commonwealth, so seniors would have to walk through crowds of kids all the way down the central axis of the project, to get to the safety of the senior center, which is closest to the railroad tracks.

A seventy-five year old man at the hearing asked why the noisy gym and swimming pool weren’t placed nearest the railroad tracks instead of a facility used by the aged.  The ever helpful and certainly senior Dr. Dick Jones suggested that seniors were hard of hearing anyway before voting to approve the plan.  Not to be outdone, even more senior Don Bankhead addressed a concern about the new Commonwealth median restricting bicycle traffic by asserting that it is perfectly legal to ride on the sidewalk in Fullerton —presumably right through seniors exiting a bus.

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On the Agenda – January 19th, 2009

In a closed session King Rob Zur Schmiede will attempt to beat up a few property owners in his relentless quest to spend your money and expand his kingdom. Tuesday, he will be targeting several properties along West Avenue and Ford Avenue.

The municipal code change for commission appointments is to be approved. Hopefully, we don’t have another scene like we did at the last meeting where all the old guys go nuts. (Item 2)

There is a change in regulations for taxi operators… (Item 3)

Item 4 will be the financial statements for October and November of 2009. Let’s see just how badly we pissed away our kids’ future.

The Engineering Department hopes to protect their investment with an agreement outlined in Item 5. It makes sense…sort of.

There are several sewer projects on the table, which, if managed correctly, will allow for fecal matter to continue to roll down the hill to the sanitation district. It’s a lot of money but probably necessary considering how poorly we have maintained our infrastructure for the last 40-plus years.

The council is being asked to approve a public alley abandonment. Not surprising, this is related to the King Rob stuff in closed session. (Item 9)

There are a few airport items which you pilots might review. (Items 10 & 11)

Item 12 caught my eye. It appears the James Wernke’s family (for those living in a cave somewhere far away, Wernke was the young man who lost his life this past December) would like to name a trail after their son/brother. But the Parks Department scratched their head and are now asking for the council to direct the Parks commission to look at a policy for naming trails. I suggest the council by-pass the commission and just name a portion of a trail after him. Designate a section of trail in the Brea Damn Recreation area as the James Wernke Memorial Trail. Done. Fire the Parks Director and get a leader..

Item 13 is an amendment to the City’s municipal code relating to permitted parking. As I recall, this has to do with the overflow of students parking on public street and residents not being too happy.

Items 14 and 15 fall under the heading of REGULAR BUSINESS. 14 covers moving our money hither and dither in a shell game related to trails. 15 discusses a Budget Review Process.

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The Fullerton City Council And It’s Trail of Tears to Nowhere

It's a long wretched journey, but is sure isn't worth it when you get there...

It's a long wretched journey, but it sure isn't worth it when you get there...

We have almost exhausted ourselves relating the long and troubling story of the Poisoned Park, AKA the Union Pacific Park, a perfect case study in local government overreach, squandered millions, and zero accountability from our “very, very good” City Manager or anybody else for that matter.

with a spring in his step...

with a spring in his step...

First the Redevelopment Agency interfered in a private sector transaction; then they unwittingly acquired contaminated property. Then they built a park that nobody but cholos and borrachos used (good thing half of it was fenced off!). Several million bucks later city staff sat on an embarrassing disaster whose magnitude could only be minimized by comparing it to other historical Redevelopment fiascoes.

But now to the point of this post. On Tuesday, the council voted to apply for grant  funds to continue the “trail” westward from Highland, even though they had been informed of a toxic plume under the property. More millions spent on more contaminated property! And still no explanation about the fact that this idiotic “trail” has no provision to take pedestrians, cyclists (or horses, yee haw!) over the at-grade crossings at Highland and Richman; and no coherent vision about how this thing is supposed to function at all.

When the issue of contamination popped up, City Engineer Don Hoppe made some noise about how they had looked into the issue (yeah, sure Don); ever helpful City Attorney Jones suggested that the application be made anyway while some sort of site check up be performed.

Huh? Once again nobody seemed real curious about how the City got stuck with contaminated property (no doubt mistakes were made and hindsight is 20/20). Instead of accountability they seem more more interested in chucking more good money after bad.

Like chickens with their heads left on

Like chickens with their heads left on

And of course it didn’t really seem to bother anybody that the City’s previous efforts on the Union Pacific right-of-way have been a titanic debacle from start to…well, there will probably never be a finish.

Now that's not very good, is it?

Now that's not very good, is it?

The thought process behind the original, ill-conceived acquisition still seems to be driving things along: it’s there, we’re the City, and there is an opportunity to own property, play park designer and trail manager, not to mention playing around with millions of dollars of somebody else’s dough.

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