Fullerton Transit Center: Amerige Court on Steroids?

We just received the following notice from Friends for a Livable Fullerton:

The Fullerton Transportation Center “Specific Plan” is an approximately 40 acre project at the southeast corner of Harbor and Commonwealth. Built over the next few decades, it will take up over 6 full city blocks at one of our prime city intersections and will have a huge effect on our historic downtown and on alternative transportation for years to come. Maximum buildout would be about 2 dozen (!) 3- to 9-story buildings:

1,560 multi-family residential units
100,000 square feet of retail
100,000 sf office space
120-room, 120,000 sf hotel

Note the density and scale compared to the surrounding area:

While the plan doesn’t yet have specific building designs, the approval of this Plan and its 2,290 EIR will allow it to proceed.

City Admits Many Unavoidable Impacts

An unusual aspect of this plan is the large number of City–admitted significant environmental impacts the City Council will be called upon to “override” due to the project benefits outweighing the impacts:

  • Air quality
  • Noise
  • Substantial increase in population and housing growth not anticipated for the project area
  • Traffic: Significant impacts at Orangethorpe Ave. and Lemon St. (It is notable that an EIR ever determines traffic impacts that can’t be mitigated.)

Plan Front-Loaded with Approvals; Future Public Oversight Minimal

Future public input on many of the design and use issues could be minimal, due to approval of the following concepts. Because most of this project can’t be thoroughly reviewed at a future time, it’s imperative that it receives more careful scrutiny now.

Form-Based Code Most development concepts are pre-approved.
Program EIR Specific buildings have not been designed or proposed at this stage. This document, a Program EIR as opposed to a Project EIR, serves almost as a blanket EIR, with no need to do specific reviews of future projects that don’t exceed footprint and impact thresholds.
Town Architect A Town Architect, contracted by the City, would provide design review opinions rather than going through the RDRC or Planning Commission. It’s unclear how much oversight concerned citizens would have on future decisions on sensitivity to existing historic structures.
Redevelopment Agency An important layer of review was removed when the citizens’ oversight committee for the Redevelopment Agency was disbanded a few years ago.

Other Major Issues

  • Fiscal impact to the City (only the City Council will discuss this, not Planning Commission)
  • Pedestrian, bike, and disabled access to the neighborhood south of the project is critical. If this project doesn’t solve this problem, it will be exacerbated by this development and never solved.
  • Several buildings are not being designated historic which merit concern – the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail building that says “Fullerton” on its roof, the smaller buildings (Slide Bar, Henry Jones Insurance) on the historic 100 W. Commonwealth block, Hawaiian Punch building, etc. The 3- to 9-story buildings may dwarf the historic buildings in the area.
  • Plans to move the current bus depot limit the ability to expand transit in the future, and cause extra complications and expense for OCTA bus service. The plans for moving the spacious, naturally lit, landscaped facility currently in the “heart of the action” to a hidden, claustrophobic ground floor of a new 5-story parking garage will degrade the perception of public transit, which is particularly ironic, since the project touts itself as “transit-oriented”. Transit advocates have suggested an outdoor, but shelter-protected, linear or L-shaped facility, but these plans were rejected in order to provide more land for development.

The Planning Comission (with Doug Chaffee recusing, and Scott Lansburg absent) voted unanimously to recommend that the City Council approve this project at their October 19th meeting. Many more people attended this meeting (approx. 30) than the previous one (7) since City staff sent out more announcements. Several local property owners were in attendance and were angry that they were being forced into this re-zoning. Many people were surprised when the developers showed slides of how massive the new construction would appear. We are asking the City to make these photos available so people can visualize the impacts.

The Fullerton Transportation Center “Specific Plan” – 40 acres, over 6 full city blocks at one of our prime city intersections. While this is primarily a zoning document without specific building designs, its approval will allow it to proceed. Maximum buildout would be about 2 dozen (!) 3- to 9-story buildings.

Technical Info and Conceptual Drawings – View the plan details

Please plan on attending on the 19th!

Friends for a Livable Fullerton

15 Replies to “Fullerton Transit Center: Amerige Court on Steroids?”

    1. They will park in the parking structure located WEST of Harbor. Why west of Harbor, any sane person might ask? Because then the bars at SOCO walk can get a free parking lot out of the OCTA instead of having to pay for one themselves.

      (See “New Parking Structure Approved…” on this blog. http://www.fullertonsfuture.org/2009/new-parking-structure-approved-more-brick-veneer-in-our-future/)

      Rail commuters will have to park all the way on the other side of Harbor, then walk to the station because somehow there is not room for train parking on 39 acres of land near the station itself.

  1. As someone who actually uses Metrolink, I have to say the parking here is joke right now. They already isn’t enough parking at the station, so for some reason you are supposed to go use the structure over at Lemon and Chapman so I guess something across the street is actually closer. Must be an accident of thinking. Of course approving a “specific plan” with no specifics takes care of anything that might be passed of as intelligence. I guess if you need proof that there is no such thing as “intelligent design” one only need look at this “specific plan”

  2. Let’s hope someone makes a campaign issue out of this monstrosity, pronto.

    Any more doubt that the Redevelopment Agency is looking out for itself instead of us?

  3. I think development needed for the city. I was given a flyer today saying that bus station will be affected. Remeber other cities has underground transit services. As long as we equally treat all transportations that would be good. May be consider high rail system with a proper bus schedule. High rails was a project came up somtime back. Don’t know if it’s still there?

  4. Exactly why Whitaker, Sebourn and Levinson need to haul their butts over their and make a strong statement against any more of this idiotic Redevelopment crap!

  5. this could be a really good development for the city, with lots of jobs, be patient and see what comes next before you guys all freak out. im sure you can keep yourselves occupied by making racist comments about minority candidates in the upcoming election.

    1. Or it could be a disaster, and the public won’t have any input once the specific plan is approved. You may be willing to trust those in power to make good decisions for the next four decades, but not all of us are.

      And I haven’t seen any racist comments about anyone, just criticisms of character, policies, and campaign tactics. Anyone who runs for office invites that kind of scrutiny.

  6. Can someone explain to me where this crap comes from and why its even considered?

    Seriously, can someone explain this process to me? I have no clue how this works.

    I’m 23, and have lived 1 block away from downtown Fullerton all my life. I’d hate to see this approved. Unlike many of my upper-middle-class classmates, I want to stay here in Fullerton. I love it. Everything about it. And I’m so glad coyote hills is still open. And the oh-so-mysterious Fox I grew up around is finally going to open.
    Now this.
    If this passes then Fullerton is no more to me.

    So how does this work? some “artist” sitting at a irvine office coming up with sketches of towns that they think needs updating? Then goes to City Hall and says “..Here”.
    Who’s in charge of letting this stuff in?
    Or is Fullerton seeking out these places asking for ideas?

    Why not a block down from downtown?
    Why not do this on the block where costco/amc 30 stands now?
    Rebuild the costco and movie theater with more commercial/living space. Instead of tearing historic buildings down. Stuff they wanted to do with Fox theater “village”, they can do there.

    And what happened to the Railroad Museum? I know the idea was shut out a few years ago. But is it still on the table? if anything should be built in downtown it should be that!

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