Posts Tagged Richman Housing Project

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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Another Disaster in the Making

How come our electeds don’t seem to be able to grasp simple concepts; why have they no resistance to the bureaucratic sales pitch; why must they obscure their own ignorance in a cloud of asinine nonsense or outright lies?

If it was hard we couldn't do it!

If it was hard we couldn't do it!

Last Tuesday night the Fullerton City Council/Redevelopment Agency approved the idiotic Richman housing project, a staff-concocted, no-bid, pet project that proposes to subsidize ownership of condos. The vote was 3-1, Sharon Quirk-Silva, dissenting. Shawn Nelson took a powder.

Why is this project idiotic? First we believe that the ownership of a house is something that should be available equally, and not doled out by the government to its own selected recipients.

Second, the units in this project will have to be perpetually restricted to people whose income levels qualify. Perfect: perpetual housing bureaucracy! The necessary deed restrictions are a pretty significant encumbrance and will just add to the financial shakiness of the whole enchilada. But without these restrictions the original buyers would be in line for a massive windfall courtesy of all of us, when they sell.

A third point, as was admirably developed by Sharon Quirk-Silva, the proposed occupancy restrictions would very likely  disqualify people who need housing the most. Which leads to the fourth point. These units will not count against Fullerton’s most neglected RHNA category – low and very low income. Which leads to:

Five. Dick Jones claimed that approving  the Richman project is required to satisfy some legal mandate - it is THE LAW. That’s just a tin-plated, bald-faced lie. The SCAG RHNA allocations are goals, not a legal mandate. Cities are required by the State HCD to provide evidence of programs used to achieve those goals – not specific projects. And, in any case hypocritically, this project does not address the most urgent RHNA category of all which means that for folks who profess to really like this sort of thing, an opportunity has been lost.

Finally, FFFF has tried to promote better, more sustainable design in government-subsidized projects. And this project just promises more of the same old architectural crap we’ve been getting all along.

And now that we contemplate this fiasco, we feel the need for a last minute adendum to the Fringie Worst Vote category.

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Sort of Good News From the Fringe: Best Vote 2009

Okay, Friends, the pickings were worse than slim. They were virtually non-existent.

It's a long way to the highway

It's a long way to the highway

Still, in a generally all-round depressing year, accountability-wise, a few bright spots appeared. Here are our nominees:

1. The Vote to let the people decide on term limits. Kudos to Shawn Nelson, Pam Keller, and Sharon Quirk-Silva for deciding to let the people of Fullerton decide whether or not 12 years in enough time to be on the city council. Naturally Don Bankhead and Dick Jones opposed the idea correctly realizing that such an idea is a direct indictment of their own sad, useless multiple-term careers on the council.

2. The Death of The Great $6 million McDonalds move. Nelson, Quirk-Silva and even Jones got this one right right. The only problem is that an apparently insubordinate staff brought back a new plan later on with – you guessed it – McDonald’s still being relocated again. And with even more embarrassing architecture than ever. Of course this undermines the whole significance of the first vote. But in a thin year you take whatever you can get.

3. The Redevelopment Expansion. Like desperate rats clinging to shipwreck debris Pam Keller, Don Bankhead, and the egregious Dick Jones demonstrated their complete cluelessness and willingness to be led down the Redevelopment garden path. But Shawn Nelson and Sharon Quirk-Silva weren’t fooled by the blatantly phony findings of blight that provided the corrupt underpinnings for whole tottering edifice. Later on they opposed the shameful backroom deal cooked up with the County to buy off the latter.

4. The very recent vote on the Richman Housing project – a no-bid, staff make-work project that ignores the housing needs identified by housing advocates as the most pressing. Sharon Quirk-Silva saw through the bureaucratic self-interest and voted no.

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