Posts Tagged NOCCCD
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!
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)
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?
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!
About 23 years ago, the Chancellor of FJC told me that the NOCCCD was interested in acquiring the magnificent Mission Revival Hetebrink House because the JC needed more parking and the property would make a great parking lot. Little did he know that I was the founder of Fullerton Heritage. I was however, unable to convince him that the house was a significant structure and should not be torn down (especially with our tax dollars) for a parking lot.
The following week I introduced myself to the old-timer who lived on the property and who had been living there since he was 14 years old! His dad had built the house out of concrete bricks that were made on site. Oh, the stories John “Pete” Hetebrink told me about growing up in Fullerton were just amazing, I just wish I owned a video camera in those days.
Over the next several years Pete and I continued meeting and then one day I asked if he would like the house to be registered on the National Register of Historic Places to help save the house from the wrecking ball after he was gone. Heck, he was in his late 90’s at the time. He told me that decision would require both his sisters Hyacinth and Dorthy’s consent. So we arranged for a meeting at which time I had prepared an application for the National Register of Historic Buildings and Places. They were very exited that the house their dad had built and the house that they all grew up in was going to become a landmark. So we had a “signing party” and the rest is history.
Pete has since died, and the house has been passed on to other family members.
A friend of mine called me this morning and asked if I knew what was happening to the Hetebrink house, so I drove over there and this is what I saw.
The property had some serious structural problems twenty years ago that were unaddressed because the Hetebrinks didn’t have the resources to make the repairs. Things have only gotten worse as indicated by the deteriorated balcony at the second floor loggia.
Hopefully the heirs of Pete Hetebrink can start addressing the deterioration of this great house.
Oops. “Community Colleges.” Oops. I mean “Colleges.”
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
A while back we spent some time looking at the architectural monstrosities being foisted on students and bond underwriters (us) at Fullerton Junior College. We noted the crappy fake historical detailing, the blocky bulk of the overbearing McSpanish dinosaurs, and of course we regretted the intellectual confusion that equates fake old with real old and believes building crappy architecture enhances historical buildings.
Here’s a reminder of what we were talking about.
Ye gods! A series of out-of-scale, fake-arched, hollow-walled, Styrofoam-corniced, bulk-squatting godzillas dumped across the campus.
We also lamented the fact that in lower-middlebrow land nobody seemed capable of conceiving the deployment of inventive and engaging contemporary architecture.
In response to a follow up post this fall, a Friend forwarded images of some recent buildings that have gone up at Santa Monica (Junior) College. We share them below.
Hmm. Food for thought. Okay, the west side of LA, SM, and Culver City are chock-full of talented architects and designers of the SCI-Arc variety, and north Orange County is chock full of…well, let’s let that one go for now.
What’s baffling is that there doesn’t seem to be anybody on the NOCCCD staff or board with a clue. Instead of doing new buildings that actually stimulate aesthetic interest, they prefer to cough up the dreary, banal, and embarrassing visual tripe of McSpanish. And then threy dredge up support for their travesties from equally clueless citizenry.
Time for a change?
Here’s an e-mail we received from a Sunny Hills High school student that raises some good questions about the lack of communication between High School District and the NOCCCD and why FJC requires that people pay to park when nobody is using the facility.
This past Friday night, I went to the Sunny Hills vs. Fullerton H.S. School football game at Fullerton High which happens to be right across the street from Fullerton Junior College which happens to have a parking structure right across the street from the high school’s stadium. I parked in that parking structure and ended up getting a parking ticket for not having a Fullerton College parking permit. I did not think that at this time (7:00-9:00pm) on a Friday night anyone would be checking for the parking permit because of the event that was going on at the stadium. There were many cars parked in the structure who were apparently also going to the game that did not have a parking permits. The officer that gave me the ticket was named Officer Gonzalez, I believe.
Is Fullerton College really in that much of a budget crunch that they need to go out and give a bunch of high school students parking tickets to collect twenty seven dollars? If people didn’t park in this structure we would be parking in the residential areas to the north of the stadium which would bother the residents that live near the stadium. The group that issued the ticket is discouraging students from going to high school promoted events. Can’t someone from the High School District and the College figure out a responsible plan that would assure people can go to the football stadium, watch a football game and not get a parking ticket?
Dick Ackerman, Fullerton Redevelopment boondoggle history, college football, and Molly McClanahan.
It’s not often that so many local topics intersect, so when they do this intersection should be scrutinized and at the very least enjoyed for it’s entertainment value.
And so Loyal Friends, climb into the FFFF way back machine and travel with us to the not so distant year of 1990.
Supposed conservative city councilman Dick Ackerman had just help orchestrate a fiscal finagle in which the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency would finance a football stadium for Cal State University at Fullerton. Councilwoman Molly McClanahan voted for this blatent abuse of redevelopment although titan football folded and the bogus fundraising program was exposed she was heard to take credit for “asking all the tough questions!”.
Fast forward now to 2009: a football stadium sits at CSUF with no football team in it. A stadium financed by the tax payers of Fullerton, all of whom are residents of the North Orange County Community College District of which Molly McClanahan is now a Trustee. The NOCCCD is caught red handed trying to illegally slip a new football stadium into it’s bond expansion plan at FJC!
Now, that’s ironic ! How many football stadiums will Molly McClannahan oversee before she wraps up her political carreer? And why can’t FJC’s football team use the CSUF football stadium for its 5 or 6 annual home games? Maybe Molly can answer that since she approved it in the first place. Let’s ask her. Molly?
It’s a sad truth that government projects just don’t seem to have much accountability. There are always lots of impressive titles handed out, but nobody ever seems to have a grip on what’s going on.
Take the NOCCCD Football field-to-stadium sleight-of-hand that took place at FJC. Somehow a project was altered without any policy review, CEQA documentation, or public notification. It only became a problem when neighbors found out about the deception and loudly protested. Who approved these changes? And who is this person’s boss? We’d like to find out who is responsible for the now very expensive and increasingly embarrassing switcheroo.
And let’s not forget the so-called Oversight Committee – a group of individuals who were either kept in the dark or who had their eyes closed. It’s hard to find anybody who really takes these committees seriously, except perhaps voters who are persuaded by the Bond Salesmen that the committee will actually ensure some sort of accountability for the public’s hundreds of millions of dollars. Nevertheless, there they are, and so they have a responsibility to the public.
In June of 2005, the Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Director, Thresa Harvey was appointed to the North Orange County Community College District Citizens Bond Oversight Committee as a representative of a “taxpayer group.” We’re not sure what a taxpayer group is since we all pay taxes (well most of us, anyway). In any case it was and is her job to comprehend what’s going on with the bond revenue projects. Was she misled? Did she even know what was going on?
Things have gotten to the point where even Fullerton’s City Manager Chris Meyer has produced a letter claiming the stadium violates the City’s General Plan, and the City is demanding an EIR. This is doubly ironic, since he routinely attends Chamber of Commerce Board meetings where Harvey can usually be found; and also because the City has been signally deficient when in come to CEQA compliance of its own favored projects.
But, to return to our main story: Who is accountable for this gridiron fiasco? Will we ever know? Probably not. But in the meantime the NOCCCD is facing the increased likelihood of an amended EIR for their stadium and some fancy footwork in the backfield if they want to build it.
20 years ago the buildings at the SE corner of Harbor and Commonwealth burned down under strange circumstances, including what was left of the Sterns and Goodman store (why do historic structures keep burning down in Fullerton?). Unbeknownst to the good folks of Fullerton, perhaps the worst example of Redevelopment ineptitude was about to begin.
The owner of the property, Pierre Nicholas, proposed to build a bank building on the corner – a suitable use for the 100% corner any reasonable person would have to agree. But not the entrepreneurial geniuses who ran the Redevelopment Agency at the time – Terry Galvin and his boss Hugh Berry. The problem? Banks don’t generate any sales tax revenue and that’s what Redevelopment is all about. At one hearing a defensive Councilmember Buck Catlin exclaimed “they wanted to build a bank” with the same tone of disgust one might mention a whorehouse or an opium den.
And so Friends, the City embarked on a course to acquire a lengthy ground lease to prevent the owner of a property to develop it the way he wanted . Nicholas went along. Why not? Income with no effort on his part.
The Redevelopment bureaucrats already had their favored developer lined up – Sanderson/J. Ray (from Irvine!)who, in cahoots with the City, had worked out a deal with Knowlwood Restaurants to occupy a restaurant on the southerly part of the site.
The subsidized Kwowlwood was eventually ground out of the Redevelopment process – a barn shaped object clad in stucco and brick veneer (pictured, above). Yeehaw!
Meanwhile the development of the corner languished as the developer was finding tenants, and presumably a loan, hard to come by during the early 90s recession. The developer did get permission to put parking lot on the corner and just added insult to injury. The 100% corner – a parking lot!
By 1995 the project was finally moving ahead. The developer proposed a stucco palazzo with a ludicrous dome covered with green glop. But worst of all the entire second floor was a fake! The developer still couldn’t rent it out and decided to do a movie set storefront instead. Check out this image:
Molly McClanahan (former Councilmember and current NOCCCD Trustee)
Don Bankhead (current Councilmember)
Dick Ackerman (former Councilman, Sate Assemblyman, and State Senator)
Buck Catlin (former Councilmember)
and, lest we forget:
Julie Sa (twice elected former unintelligible Councilmember, current whereabouts unknown)
By the time the building was built and occupied 7 long years had passed – 7 years of lost property tax, and the addition ludicrous new buildings that never should have been built in the first place. For many Redevelopment watchers “Knowlwood” has become synonymous with Redevelopment boondoggles.
It’s bad enough that the City of Fullerton has always shown a penchant for fake old, with its attendant brick veneer and styrofoam cornices. Sooner or later we may actually come to accept this affront to taste by the bureaucratic boobeoisie. What really adds insult to injury, however is the cavalier way that modern architecture is treated by the City. By “modern’ we really mean functional, original architecture that encloses space creatively that employs abstract patterns, uses modern materials, and that expresses its structure in its outward appearance.
What really bugs us was to watch last year’s “Jefferson Commons” abomination approved unanimously by the City Council. Bad enough was the proposed monstrosity; we’re used to architectural crap. Even worse was the propsed demolition of three mid-century modern gems on Chapman Avenue without so much as a backward glance.
So why do we bring this up again? Last night the Council voted to extend the permit deadlines for an additional two years since the new developer (the old one already bailed out) can’t get financing. Several speakers pleaded the case that the buildings in question have historical merit that was not recognized by a faulty CEQA process (wow, no surprise there!), and that demolition should be postponed at least until a final project looks like it could start. These seem like a pretty prudent path to us.
Why these buildings were not originally identified as historic resources is not hard to explain. The City ignores anything not listed on their register of significant buildings; that accomplishes the bare minimum of CEQA requirements, but doesn’t say much for the integrity of the process. The out-of-town lobbyist had done a good job of spreading around the wealth and the buildings never stood a chance. Meanwhile, Fullerton’s Heritage group, that should have been raising Holy Hell, was apparently too busy putting brass plaques on things and telling NOCCCD administrators how much they prefer fake old to modern architecture.
The trustees over at the North Orange County Community College District have seemingly done the impossible, conjuring up a new football stadium at the FJC campus out of thin air. Apparently the neighbors aren’t too crazy about this sleight-of-hand since it means noise, lights, traffic, etc. They decided to raise their own ruckus, and in a democracy that’s a damn fine thing.
What happened was that the locals discovered the District had been guilty of “mission creep” or bureaucratic metastasis, or whatever you want to call it. But rather than our going on, let’s let neighbor Ken Bane speak for himself (courtesy of another FFFF thread):
“the EIR only contemplated a “renovation” of the track field. but when no one was looking, they added lighing, a PA system, and seating 2000+. When we caught their hand in the cookie jar they agreed to be a “good neighbor” and do the required supplemental CEQA review, like someone following the law makes them worthy, when in fact they wouldn’t have unless we busted them. And frankly, we’re skeptical they’ll do it right from here anyway.”
We recall a Ken Bane who used to work for the Fullerton Planning Department many years ago and wonder if this is the same fellow. If it is, we have confidence that his narration of the environmental deficiencies of the project is pretty accurate.
Now it may come as a shock to some of you Loyal Friends, but it is the government itself that is often the biggest scofflaw when it comes to abiding by CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). Even when they don’t get a categorical exemption public agencies often find ways of dodging the intent of CEQA that could land you or me in the slammer.
As our own Fullerton Harpoon pointed out in response to Mr. Bane, this enhanced plan will require an amendment to an approved EIR including new facts not previously in evidence. Traffic, Noise and Aesthetic EIR categories will have to be addressed, and the new document should also include alternatives to the project – in this case one alternative could be to rent somebody else’s facility as a congenial part of a “no build” alternative; maybe it could be the Fullerton High School stadium a mere quarter of a mile away.
CEQA also requires that if there are unmitigated impacts (such as in this case lighting and noise will undoubdtedly be) a statement of overidding considerations be made identifying some objective public need for building the project. In this case it’s pretty hard to see how anybody could justify the necessity of a game-day stadium, especially for the few hundred spectators that show up for a typical Hornet game.
This may be one of the rare cases where a citizen/neighborhood group can take on a government agency – and win. We will try to keep our devoted readers up to date on this issue.
Lost in the commotion of last fall’s election excitement was a short letter to the Fullerton Observer by Tom Dalton, Fullerton Heritage’s President-for-Life. It appeared in the early September issue. It seemed to be a very belated response to the letter I had written some time before, and that I just posted here on our blog. Well, I’m posting a copy of Mr. Dalton’s letter here as well as a response I sent to the Observer’s editor. Please note that the Observer never printed my letter rebutting Tom Dalton’s, but now for the very first time, Loyal Friends, you may enjoy it here!
First Mr. Dalton’s missive:
Fullerton College dedicated the latest in a series of new buildings on the Fullerton campus August 15, 2008. The Classroom Office Building joins the Library and the Student Center as another example of how new construction can complement and even improve on the overall historic and architectural character of the campus complex. Period design features, proper scale and proportions, and use of appropriate materials on these buildings reflect the style and character of the original campus. And let us not forget the wonderful results of the restoration work on the Wilshire Continuing Education complex. Fullerton College President Kathleen Hodge, former District Chancellor Jerome Hunter, and the District Board are all to be commended for their steadfast commitment to honor the past by foregoing faddish architecture that others often use to make their own statements. Fullerton College has made the strongest statement of all by preserving its heritage. Fullerton Heritage salutes you! Keep up the good work.
Tom Dalton, President Fullerton Heritage
Well, Tom has had his bootlicking say, and now I will share my thoughts on the subject:
I just read Tom Dalton’s recent tribute to the wisdom of the NOCCCD Trustees for their dismal architectural failures on the Fullerton College campus, as printed in your September edition. Tom’s letter must have pleased the trustee who asked him to write it, but it left me wondering why these folks choose to defend the indefensible – rather than develop a new policy of building modern architecture on our campus. Well, maybe they ought to be defensive! Tom tells us the pseudo-historical details, the materials, and the proportions of the new buildings are harmonious with the historical structures on campus. I guess he expects us to take his word for it. But the commonsense of anyone standing in the central quad will tell him that the new library is an overbearing, out-of-scale monstrosity.
The fake concrete form patterns impressed on hollow stucco walls, the awkward fenestration, and the ludicrous cupola only add insult to injury. It’s not easy to create buildings that are both tacky and unoriginal, but whoever designed this building achieved this dubious distinction. The image and caption on the cover of your early October issue is telling: Tiles Fall off the Dome of the New Library During Storm (what storm was that, by the way?). Further comment is unnecessary.
Why does Tom admire architecture that hides its steel structure within hollow walls made of metal studs, lath, and plaster? He says this sort of thing goes well with the existing buildings, and again he seems to think we’ll take his word for it. But why should we accept the idea that boring, dishonest, clunky buildings are anything but an insult to historical structures? Because Tom says so? The new building on Chapman Avenue with its false arches assaults passersby with a sort of stubborn muteness; it is a dull, blocky, inert monument to creative bankruptcy, without a single redeeming architectural quality.
Tom piously warns us against the evil of architectural fads, by which I think we can assume he means contemporary architecture that doesn’t ape the original Mediterranean themes of the WPA buildings on campus. And so, innovative modern architecture on campus of the sort pioneered in Southern California by masters such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolf Schindler and Richard Neutra and their followers would likely be dismissed as faddish by Dalton, just as their work was scorned by philistines of an earlier time who preferred period revivals such as Stockbroker Tudor and French Provincial as safe, tasteful bets for the local gentry.
But must the public, the students, and the faculty accept fake arches, Styrofoam cornices, and hidden structural members because they gratify Tom and his like minded friends on the Board of Trustees? We should recognize a higher responsibility than weakly regurgitating forms from the past and doing even that poorly. There is no premium paid for good, modern architecture. It costs no more than the uninspired junk the North Orange County Community College District Trustees are foisting on us. And in the long run good architecture will cost less. Someone at the top must make the commitment.
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. On top of that, it’s a waste of money.
In a few years, as the dreary McSpanish dinosaurs of my Alma Mater disintegrate into a well-deserved decrepitude, Trustees will no doubt float yet another bond to pay for their replacement. Then, hopefully, some future generation will enjoy new creative and dynamic architecture on campus.
Founder, Fullerton Heritage