The “Paseo Park” Chronicles – The Park That Never Was. Or is. Part 1

This is a story that relates a chain of events that goes back many years, Gentle Readers, so please be patient. For those who don’t think Redevelopment spends half its time fixing mistakes it created with the other half, we promise that you will learn a lot about the way your city has been run – in three bite-size installments.

Why can't they leave stuff alone?
Why can't they leave stuff alone?

Way, way back in the 1980s Terry Galvin of the Redevelopment Agency cooked up a deal with the Union Pacific Railroad to acquire their Mission Revival depot on Truslow and Harbor. It was properly seen as a valuable historic resource, but damn the luck! It was on the wrong side of the tracks! Galvin’s plan was to relocate it to its current location on Harbor and Santa Fe, attach a weird-looking wood box addition to it, and present it to his pals at The Spaghetti Factory for $1 a year. The first of Fullerton’s subsidized restaurants offered cheap carbs to the masses, and why not? They weren’t paying any rent!

25 years of corporate welfare...
25 years of corporate welfare...

But how does this narration tie into something called  “Paseo Park” you ask? Patience, Friends, patience.

As usual the Redevelopment “experts” created more problems than they solved, for the empty lot created by the relocation was soon to become a permanent dumping ground for trash and junk – right next to Harbor Boulevard in the veritable gateway to Downtown Fullerton! And the painful irony: blight as a by-product of Redevelopment! But it was in the barrio so nobody cared.

Blight in the foreground, blight in the background, Redevelopment style...
The UP site with the Allen Hotel in the distance: blight in the foreground, blight in the background, courtesy of Redevelopment.

But cleaning up junk on railroad property is not nearly so fun as playing Monopoly with other people’s money, and the problem festered for years and years – almost twenty to be exact; until the Union Pacific decided to unburden itself of this section of track and the adjacent depot site. Despite the fact that that the railroad was in negotiations with private citizens to buy the old depot site, the Redevelopment Agency led by Gary Chalupsky intervened, and acquired the property itself – with the ludicrous intention of building a trail and an adjacent park. The “trail” itself was utterly useless since it effectively ended at the Highland Avenue grade separation on one end, and the SoCo Walk project at the other. The park occupied the former depot space between Truslow and the trail. Check out the aerial.

And all the property was removed from the property-tax rolls forever.

How about a Utility Tax Fix?
How about Another Utility Tax Fix?

Apart from the trail to nowhere, the park project itself was a dubious venture from the start. The location was not auspicious, and nobody from the community really wanted it. Sparsely attended “community” meetings showed that people on Truslow were concerned about on-street parking and getting rid of blight – not creating more. And they weren’t interested in a hang-out for the local gangs and borrachos by creating a “pocket park.” Well the City never let that sort of thing stand in the way of progress.

Skeptical observers noted that vast Richman Park was only a few blocks away, but this did not dampen enthusiasm in City Hall for a land grab: Susan Hunt, the Director of Community Services, was in a facility building mood – and that’s all that counted. Redevelopment money was there to grease the skids.

cashspigot

Read the rest of the Paseo Park Chronicles – Part 1 – Part 2Part 3

9 Replies to “The “Paseo Park” Chronicles – The Park That Never Was. Or is. Part 1”

  1. I’d like to see how much we have spent total at this point to still have no functioning park due to the contamination on the site.

    Do people ever get fired for screwing up this bad in government or do the problems take so long to figure out that by the time blame is ready the culprits have retired to the $100,000 pension club?

  2. Kiger:

    My bet on that trail is that it is a travel route for Tokers Town thugs to transition between tagging spots near Independence Park and the “Town I Live In” neighborhood a.k.a. Tokers Town

  3. Travis, thanks. i’ve tucked the aerial into the text of the post.

    Commissioner, as usual, you’re getting ahead of the story: patience. All will be revealed!

  4. You left out an interesting part of the story. After Terry Galvin moved that building he tried to get it nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. Only problem was, moving a building out of its historic context is a big no-no and the City had to get a congressman to do some arm-twisting to get the building listed.

    Unfortunately this was just the start of the Terry Galvin’s and the City’s wholesale disregard of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehab. and its own Landmark Ordinance.

    You have documented the Bank of Italy, The Allen Hotel and the “Parker Building.” There have been lots of others, too.

  5. I’d like to echo Matt’s question. Does the Spaghetti Factory still pay $1 a year to operate in that building? I hope someone is looking into this.

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