Fullerton’s City Lights – FUBAR From The Word Go – Act III

A New Team Was Brought in To Finish The Job
A New Team Was Brought in To Finish The Job

Loyal Friends, when we left off our last post the City’s chosen SRO “developer,” Caleb Nelson” was gone: whether he left voluntarily or was shoved aside is a moot point. He left behind an unstarted project, a history of City bungling, and an embarrassing hole in the cityscape. Sometime in 1996 Redevelopment  Director Gary Chalupsky discovered a replacement. Apparently on his own authority he chose Agit Mithawalla to take over the project. No public hearing, no RFP, no prequalifications, no City Council approval. Behind closed doors a new deal was hatching.

Don't Ask Don't Tell!

And the City Council had changed. And changed again in the fall of 1996. Jan Flory was now on the Council since 1994, trying to rewrite Recall history and a sure bet to cover up any staff misfeasance. But the newly minted councilman Dick Jones was on the dais. He had run as the voice of conservatism in Fullerton and it was known that his pals in the Chamber were dead set against an SRO across the street. Public housing – the horror!

Across the street from us! No freakin' Way, Man
Across the street from us? No freakin' Way, Man

When the final agreements with Mithawalla finally reached the Council for approval in March 1997 a showdown was prepared by irate citizens who opposed the SRO project for one reason or another. Some cited inflated construction costs; some objected to deal for financial reasons; other attacked Mithawalla’s record of shoddy building in LA. When the vote came down the agreement was voted down 3-2. Bankhead and Flory, predictably, backed up the staff mess completely; Chris Norby rallied Jones and Julie Sa to oppose. Dick Jones gave the very first of his corn pone diatribes, in which he hurled invective against the project, its likely denizens, and the methadone clinic next door.

When Councilmen Attack!
When Councilmen Attack!

He was Big. He was Brave. He would soon come to regret giving voice to his peculiar worldview…

Read the rest of “Fullerton’s City Lights”: Part 1Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4Epilogue

13 Replies to “Fullerton’s City Lights – FUBAR From The Word Go – Act III”

  1. Please post a photo of Hitler foaming at the mouth next to Jones photo of him flipping out so we can compare them.

  2. until this post , i was wondering if ffff was turning into friends for architectural digest. fullertons’ physical redevelopment from substance to styrofoam cheap old fake is a metaphor for the cheap, fake predictable behavior of fullerton city council and its supporters. But I eat my words when I offer up another architectural metaphor to describe fullerton’s leadership. In the 1950’s bland cheaply built apartment buildings would try to fool the public that they were not just huge, enclosed spaces by decorating their entrances with silly facades. Faux brick, tiki roofs, space age lighting fixtures, you get the point. this fifties architecture was called ding-bat and this same phrase aptly diescribes fullerton’s city council especially quirk and jones

  3. van – “fullertons’ physical redevelopment from substance to styrofoam cheap old fake is a metaphor for the cheap, fake predictable behavior of fullerton city council and its supporters”

    That’s a pretty shrewd observation.

  4. And “ding-bat” has itself become a fun reminder of past times in California. (See Judy Fiskin’s wonderful miniature photos of the 1982-84). If well maintained and managed, these modest apartment complexes can be a decent affordable place to live for many people. That is, unless they are torn down to make way for new dedicated affordable housing units that cost way more money, house fewer people, and are just way crummier. Will the current crop of McStucco cracker boxes become the ding-bats of the future? I don’t think they will hold up for that long.

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