Posts Tagged Fullerton Planning Commission

Kudos to Sharon Quirk-Silva For Independence and Accountability

At last Tuesday’s council meeting our elected representatives were served up a tasty morsel from their attorney Dick Jones. He was peddling a load of BS about it being city policy that Planning Commissioners not consider the economic feasibility of subsidized projects. We’ve already documented Jones’ baloney here.

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But Sharon Quirk-Silva, would have none of it. She challenged Jones on the supposed policy, and suggested, correctly, that the project be reconsidered in the light of a full review by the Planning Commission. She had the support of Planning Commissioner Scott Lansburg, who actually showed up to indicate that for him at least, the project would have received different treatment had he been permitted to consider the practical economics of the thing.  Good for him.

Attorney Jones of course, pushed back, conjuring up the frightening manitou of “litigation” to chase stray councilmembers back onto their reservation. Now, gee, where have we seen that tactic before?

Meanwhile, Don Bankhead seemed a lot more interested in attending the upcoming ground breaking ceremony (where he can wear a specially painted gold hard hat) than in reining in the Richman/Olson Co. disaster.

In the end nothing came of hearing it except that the Council might have “study sessions” on the matter; which, if it ever happens, will no doubt be steered right back into the direction the city staff wants – at which point Attorney Jones made-up “policy” will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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Attorney Dick Jones Spins Out New City Policy To Cover Posterior

He droned. And droned. And droned some more. When he was done his crapola lay before the City Council and public like the steaming load of road apples it was.

Well like they say, the road apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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Back in November City Attorney (Junior Grade) Tom Duarte had told the Planning Commission that their range of review on the ghastly Richman housing project did not include economic considerations. At Tuesday night’s city council meeting his boss, City Attorney Dick Jones, defended his boy by cooking up a line of nonsense about city “policy” precluding the Planning Commission from considering economic viability factors in its review of projects, even apparently a highly subsidized one like the Richman disaster-in-the-making. As you can see he keeps blathering on about “historic” roles and “prior direction” blah, blah, blah.

By the time of Tuesday’s meeting, even the city planning staff had admitted that there was nothing to preclude economic consideration by the commission. To the contrary, a detailed staff memo by city planner Al Zelinka documented the many instances where such review was not only appropriate, but required.  As expected, staff started waffling again at the meeting, but we already have it from them, in writing! We shared it with you here. Since the legal jig was up, Jones fell back on his lame-ass “policy” response.

And we challenge attorney Jones to point out exactly which council resolution(s) puts that alleged ”policy” into effect. hell, go ahead and point out a single vote that established this policy. Go ahead, Mr. Jones. Do it. Enlighten us. Prove to us that you are not merely protecting the ill-advised action of your employee.

As an odd footnote,  Jones noted that Planning Commissions do review and advise on development disposition agreements. Which begs the question: on this highly subsidized housing project, why didn’t they?

Hmm.

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Fullerton Decision-makers Lied To. So What’s New?

Last year just before Christmas the Fullerton City Council voted 3-1 to approve the idiotic Richman housing project, a staff-driven boondoggle that makes zero planning, housing, or economic sense. We wrote about it here.

We also wrote about the review of the same fiasco-in-the-making by the Planning Commission here, in which we lauded Commissioner Bruce Whitaker for his solitary stance in opposing it. As the YouTube clip shows, Whitaker objected on economic grounds citing the project’s dubious fiscal foundation.

This position was immediately questioned by Commissioner Lansburg who inquired about it of the city attorney, Tom Duarte:

Commissioner Lansburg: is it within the Commission’s purview to look at this from a financial standpoint or are we only to look at this from a planning standpoint?

The city attorney Mr. Duarte answered: In the commissions purview its a land use issue, the city council will look at the financial impact.

Well, the project was passed by a Commission majority, with only Whitaker dissenting.

Subsequently Commission Chairman Dexter Savage addressed the following  communication to staff, seeking clarification of the issue.

And now, Lo and Behold, the issue has been agendized by the City Council; and just look at staff’s response: economic considerations are indeed within the purview of a planning commission in many respects, and are nowhere prohibited.

This response begs  several questions. Why did the city’s attorney misinform the commission? Is he incompetent, or was he motivated to press the approval of a project near and dear to the hearts of the city staff, without any reference to the law.

Why did the staff present like (John Godlewski) not correct him? He countersigned the above memorandum contradicting Duarte, yet was at the meeting and said nothing.

The facts can really only be interpreted in one way. Both the attorney and staff were more interested in the approval of the project, no matter how bad, than in the service of the public interest, or the truth, or the law.

Now the entire matter has been brought to the City Council for its enlightenment as agenda item #16 at the January 19, meeting. But it’s really to late for the Richman project – a Redevelopment/housing staff concocted project that has all the tell-tale signs of a disaster in the making.

And Friends: there you have it.

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