Prioritizing Park Dwelling Fees

Taken 27 April. Same Status to Date.

At the last City Council meeting it was asked by the public and re-asked by Council member Sebourn why Park Dwelling Fees cannot be utilized for maintenance in existing parks. At approximately the 3:41:00 mark in said meeting Parks Director Curiel stated it was owing to an ordinance and Interim City Manager Roeder specified that it was State Law which is where the conversation ended.

I would like to set the record straight from my layman’s perspective.

First and foremost let us explain Park Dwelling Fees. They are fees that developers have to pay the city in order to build new places for people to live within the city. $X/Room. That money is then used for Bridges to Nowhere and temporary stairs that cannot be repaired. What it is not used for is maintenance on our existing parks.

This is especially problematic as salaries and benefits eat up ever more of our general fund and we find ourselves with unsafe parks and deferred maintenance. We put plywood up over damage (nearly 6-weeks later and counting), or worse, while our $6-figure employees tell us we don’t have the budget to keep our kids safe. It’s infuriating.

But back to the Dwelling Fees. The point of Dwelling Fees can be explained by the first ordinance I can find from within the city of Fullerton. That’s Ordinance 1375 from 20 October 1964. It reads as follows (Emphasis Added):

Section 14.29.010 – The City Council hereby declares that the fees required to be paid hereby are assessed pursuant to the taxing power of the City and solely for the purpose of producing revenue. The continued increase in the development of dwelling units in the City with the attendant increase in the population of the City has created an urgency for the planning, acquisition, improvement and expansion of public parks, playgrounds, and recreation facilities to serve the increasing population of the City and an urgency for additional revenues with which to finance such public facilities.

Improvement. Finance such public facilities.

The intent was clearly and originally to finance as well as improve our parks. This ordinance was changed on 20 April 1971 when the council passed Ordinance 1741 which removed municipal code section 14.29.010 on Dwelling Fees and added the more current Chapter 21.12: Tax for Parks on Installing Bedrooms. We’re talking specifically about 21.12.040: Use of funds.

Ordinance 1741 stated:

Purpose of Tax. The City Council hereby declares that the tax levied by this Chapter is solely for the purpose of producing revenue for the acquisition of public parks, and it is hereby determined that the need therefor increases in proportion to the increase in the number of bedrooms in the City.

This section of the municipal code was changed again in 1978, 1987, 1988 and again finally with the most recent change coming in 1992. At that point the city changed the ordinance to specifically allow for maintenance with a sunset provision to take place in 1993 (Ord. 2830) owing to a budget crisis. Since that sunset the Fullerton Municipal Code has stated:

…the park dwelling fund and shall be used solely for the acquisition, development and improvement of public parks and recreational facilities in the City.

There is no kicker about financing such facilities so we find ourselves in the situation where we can keep buying and building parks while not being able to maintain the parks we’ve previous procured which is ridiculous. Take Hillcrest Park as a perfect example. This narrow reading of our Municipal Code has allowed parks to defer maintenance causing them to remove playground equipment while building a bridge for purely aesthetic reasons. It’s a backwards way to run a Parks Department.

It’s also not something that our Parks Department does consistently. This becomes problematic when you realize that restoring the fountain at Hillcrest is no different fundamentally than restoring a playground that has, like the fountain, fallen into disrepair owing to neglect. The fountain isn’t a new acquisition or development in the park so if the city can argue that such an improvement for the fountain is within the scope of “improvement” I’d like to see a solid definition which precludes other such improvements for less grandiose projects.

But what about CM Roeder saying it was a State Issue? He seems to be mostly correct. On 08 September 2015 Governor Jerry Brown signed AB1191 which is the Quimby Act. What does the Act have to do with Park Dwelling Fees?

Quimby

It amends Section 66477 of the Government Code to read (Emphasis Added):

(3) (A) The land, fees, or combination thereof are to be used only for the purpose of developing new or rehabilitating existing neighborhood or community park or recreational facilities to serve the subdivision, except as provided in subparagraph (B).

Okay. Let us not mince words here.

Definition of rehabilitate:

rehabilitated; rehabilitating
transitive verb
1a : to restore to a former capacity : reinstate
1b : to restore to good repute : reestablish the good name of
2a : to restore to a former state (as of efficiency, good management, or solvency) rehabilitate slum areas
2b : to restore or bring to a condition of health or useful and constructive activity

Restore. Restore. Restore. Restore. Every part of that definition using the word restore. Unless the State of California is using a non-standard definition of rehabilitate, which is possible knowing CA, I find it hard to fathom why we aren’t using at least a part of the Dwelling Fees to restore our parks instead of simply allowing them to fall into disrepair due to our council’s insistence on throwing the majority of the general fund at public safety pay/pensions.

It’s time that the City either offers a legal reason from the State that contradicts my reading of AB1191 or they amend our municipal code to make fixing our parks the priority they clearly are not currently. I would state immediately the code change should specify actual improvements and preclude payroll and benefits. The last thing we need is for the dwelling fees to utilized to simply offset salary/benefits problems.

Chronic Failure Our Town

52 thoughts on “Prioritizing Park Dwelling Fees

  1. when is FFFF going to outgrow its awesome investigative journalism and start fucking doing something about this shit? What’s the logical step for making changes in our beloved but obviously dysfunctional community? Seriously, the work is great – even if the axe-to-grind is obvious (and deserved). I feel like you highlight the shenanigans, and the impact is there but it could be so much more…

    1. About time someone else demands these tony’s tools shit stirrers come up with solutions. Bushala doesn’t allow for solutions, only political shit storms that serve as diversions to keep his goombas like Greg and Bruce in office. Even Joshua refuses to demand real solution like when he was asked on this site to deal with the fraud of the stairs following the last meeting. Who gives a shit about a piece of particle board on a jungle gym. We just had 1.6 million in wasted money on the stairs. Joshua you need to demand that the city sue the contractor and demand that the inspectors that signed off on them be fired. Greg and Bruce need to agendize this immediately since they totally ignored you at the last meeting, I don’t see it on tonight’s agenda. Looks like they are ignoring you tonight as well. What are you waiting for, Tony’s permission?

      1. I don’t “need” to do anything and Tony has zero to do with my writing or work. But hey, don’t let facts get in the way of a good tirade.

        Do you really think insulting me, constantly, is going to bring me to your point of view and influence my thinking?

        1. Joshua, I agree you don’t have to do anything. But it does seem to be the next logical step in your mission of keeping staff and elected officials accountable. As it stands now they’re getting away with shit DESPITE your clear illuminations. Which just adds insult to injury. I support smart and reasonable governance and public resource stewardship, I think FFFF’s does too. FFFF is an equal opportunity “shit-stirrer,” I’d wear that title as a badge of honor. There are a small number of incendiaries here but there’s also a larger, silent readership with whom your work resonates. I’m one of them. I’m craving that you take it to the next level, otherwise what’s the point? You seem to be the best equipped, on so many levels – audience, media savvy, investigative capabilities, simple intellect… You guys are heroes in my book.

          1. I don’t understand… What do you mean when you say that FFFF needs to “take it to the next level?” This is just a blog, at best you’ll find responsible citizens reporting on issues that merit everyone’s attention. What would you have FFFF do beyond that? The people writing posts aren’t reporters, but do reporters for the news media “take things to the next level?” No, they just report what they discover as a result of their research.

            Several of the FFFF posters are already attending council meetings and voicing their concerns during public comments. Are they supposed to run for office? Or is “taking it to the next level” just wishful thinking, that it would be really cool if FFFF somehow did something more than they already are to hold public officials accountable?

            If anything, I think FFFF opens the door for outraged citizens to take it to the next level, and that responsibility falls on all of us reading this stuff.

            1. Marcellus, I never said they need to do anything, just that I wish they would. Because they seem the best equipped.

              “Take it to the next level” could mean anything from run for office to file a lawsuit to who knows. It could be wishful thinking. Obviously supporting a particular candidate makes you biased by definition, and there’s a benefit to remaining independent. I don’t have all the answers. But bottom line FFFF is an activist organization – so it just seems logical they could lead the way. Whether they want to is another issue. And if it falls on us (which ultimately of course it does), then frankly what the fuck is wrong with all of us?

              1. Does going through all the trouble to research investigate present and point out efficiencies and problems with infrastructure only to stop short of a solution and demand action by elected officials make any sense to you? And then when confronted with their inaction they resort to name-calling and childish Behavior making references to Flat Earth and tin foil and wing nut like that has anything to do with local government corruption. This is more like the behavior of scared children who don’t know what to do when someone takes your blankie away

                1. T-REX NOT SO SMART AND VERY OLD, BUT EVEN T-REX SEE NO ONE CALL YOU NAMES.

                  T-REX THINK MAYBE YOU NEED GLASSES.

                  RAWRRRRRR!

        2. Wow Joshua I would expect a better response from you than that it’s really simple man up and carry through and don’t be a phony you can complain all you want about things and call people names but if you don’t carry things logically through you’re no good why stop it just exposing the problems what good does that do why not deal with Solutions just like whoever you accused of engaging in a tirade accused you of and as far as Tony bushala how can you say he has nothing to do with this website because if he has no involvement or interest in it then publicly disclosed who does because after all why are all the Articles written by Anonymous people by the way Joshua your answer is a cop out

                1. Your arms will be just fine – in about 100 million years. Unless a giant asteroid hits the Yucatan. Also, the world is flat.

            1. I don’t know who you are but I do know that the questions asked of mr. Ferguson are very fair and it sounds like you’re a phony just like him

              1. So why are you attacking the person that does? Easy target of a simple mind.
                Your claims are illogical, and your diatribes unreadable. You need to go back to 4th grade and learn to write in complete sentences. When you have completed that, take a debate class and a civics class. Neither you nor Joe Imbrano or anyone else are ever going to get to be the “high ruler of Fullerton”, even if by some miracle you or your ilk were to get elected it’s a majority vote, not “I get what I want I am on council!!!” Understand why we have a checks and balances system, come back and have a reasoned and logical conversation about how to handle city council, if you refuse I leave you in the hands of T-Rex who despite having gone extinct millions of years ago has a much more solid grasp of the English language.

      2. So what are you “demanding” Mr. Anonymous? FFFF doesn’t work for you, but you sure act like an outraged client.

        Here’s a thought: emerge from the shadows and YOU demand something at a council meeting. See where it gets you.

    2. When are you going to write a check so FFFF can hire a lawyer? Until then please just shut your trap.

    3. Actually, last night Joshua spoke about revising the City’s Park Dwelling fees ordinance, suggesting that it be broadened to include rehab as allowed by the gubnor’s latest standard.

      The Interim City Manager jumped on the idea and said they would look into the feasibility of such changes based on the interpretation of the state law.

      Good job Joshua!

      1. Exactly! so “take it to the next level” could mean more issue-based activism. In an organized way with more people behind it. Instead of Just Joshua, it could be Joshua and a room full of supporters. People want to show up some something important these days and the Council seems to take notice of that. t could be an organized agenda of top issues, backed by FFFF’s evidence-based investigations. Maybe the hardest part would be toning down the vitriol. Are we capable?

      2. That is a terrible idea. Not to be able to afford the basics of service and having to rob from the Park dwelling fee is not the answer, The answer is ending the ongoing malfeasance that the council is ignoring and you guys are aiding and abetting them. You don’t take one time up front money to pay for normal, ongoing expenses. That is accounting 101.

        1. You are just so in love with yourself, aren’t you buddy?

          No one is saving Fullerton like you’re saving Fullerton. Everyone else is just a pretender or corrupt.

          Politics is a team sport, son. I get that have a hard time playing well with others, but you still have to square reality. You cannot do this by yourself. You will not change one single thing in this town by loudly attacking every single person who doesn’t pay homage to your single minded greatness. It’s been years and you’ve spent nearly a hundred grand of your own money and achieved exactly nothing. In fact, you’ve come pretty darn close to burning it all down more than once. Eventually your reckless rage will come calling with a debt that’s long overdue.

          You are clearly incapable of getting on board, so maybe you should just get out of the way.

          I look forward to your angry response full of poorly cropped photos, easily defeated wild accusations, and shameless self promotion.

          1. The answer is ending the ongoing malfeasance that the council is ignoring and you guys are aiding and abetting them. You don’t take one time up front money to pay for normal, ongoing expenses. That is accounting 101. Forget all of your emotional baggage and hangups for a moment and deal with the facts. You are smarter than prostrating yourself at the feet of a fraud. The solution here is not to play politics, we are too far gone for that.

            1. No, the answer is you taking some time off. You are way too deep into your hate to look at anything with any objectivity. It’d be good for you and your family.

              No one is suggesting that using developer fees to fund routine maintenance is an ideal solution. The city’s do nothing option is to demolish end of life equipment or worse, allow hazardous conditions to persist in neighborhood parks. For those of us who actually want to live here, that’s not tenable.

              The money is there. It comes down to what is the best use for the funds, not elementary accounting. Do we want usable neighborhood parks or stairs and bridges to nowhere? I vote usable parks. That’s sensible. That’s rational. It’s not perfect, but it sure beats what you’re suggesting: Let our community bleed to death. Yes, one time funds should go to one time use– but this is Fullerton. We make the best with what we have and fixing parks so kids can play safely in their neighborhood is better than the vanity projects being executed now.

              I have plenty of emotional baggage. I do, really. The difference between you and me is that I don’t let my history define my future. I don’t need to win. I don’t need revenge, and I don’t need to be loved by complete strangers.

              You will not make change by yourself. You will not make change by accusing others of not doing it right. You will not make change by making more and more enemies. You just won’t.

              Yet, here we are, with you repeating the same failed strategy over and over. Cry, complain, stomp your feet, hold your breath all you want. It will never, ever, work.

              Get out of the way. You had your turn.

              1. Who are you telling to get out of the way and get out of the way of what? Who are you addressing your comments to?

          2. Such vitriol clearly shows somebody hit a nerve. Just when I was beginning to like this blog. By the way, where I come from, this sure sounds like a threat to me. At any rate, the individual you detest is the one who exposed and stopped the failed power grab called the DCCSP. Did Barry save Fullerton? Well one could argue that Fullerton would be a very different place today if it were not for Barry who accomplished more with chump change by himself than Tony’s millions and minions ever will. Bushala is the one who blew through half a million dollars and squandered all his ill gotten political capital from riding the broken back of Kelly Thomas on fireworks. His recall water boy and pit bull Thompson is the one with the rage issues, not Barry. Do your homework. Barry is a stand up guy and a family man who almost went to jail for doing his job. The only reason you guys have been trained to hate on him is because your bosses are corrupt. Some of you have no idea what you are part of yet. Don’t worry. You will. Why are you guys so afraid of Imbriano and Levinson that you have to resort to defame, threaten and marginalize them? You are no better than the dirty cops and the dirty politicians. Joe and Barry make more sense of what is going on than anyone else ever has on the political scene here in Fullerton and they report the facts that no one has the guts to spill. They don’t have an agenda, they just tell the truth. That doesn’t bode well for people who are beholden to the corruption and the controlled opposition. Those that have limited finances and need to remain connected to Tony’s umbilical cord in hopes of gaining financial assistance to further their delusions of grandeur with regard to their political aspirations is the glue that binds you all to the fly paper. It is truly detestable because so much opportunity for change has been derailed by this political chicanery. You all need to take some political science classes on political reform and stop protecting the usurpers in your city government.

            1. I personally like Barry Levinson and Joe Imbriano, and greatly admire their activism.

              I wholeheartedly agree that these two individuals care greatly about the PEOPLE of Fullerton and have no political agenda other than attempting to improve it.

              Watching people demonize them on this blog suggests that they are telling the truth and others feel that by shouting them down and publicly humiliating them that they’ll go away.

              I hope they NEVER go away.

            2. “At any rate, the individual you detest is the one who exposed and stopped the failed power grab called the DCCSP”

              Except he didn’t.

              He’s the guy who took credit for it though. Saved us all.

              1. Thanks Sage McGee.
                I was just about to post in defense of Jane Reifer, Sean Paden, Matthew Leslie, and Jane Rands the people who did expose the DCCSP, lest this joker’s screed be attributed to one of them.

                1. The Joker is really all of you we’re playing ball with bushala plans to turn this place into a high-rise hell hole and it almost worked like a charm but thanks to people like mr. Levinson who don’t play ball with the corrupt establishment and he don’t like to hang out in your sandbox that’s plans are off the table and Fullerton remains intact

                2. LOL. Perhaps you can point us to some of Bushala’s past high rises? Maybe some plans? Or any other sort of evidence?

                3. This is their MO. Make wild accusations about things that were never true, then celebrate stopping them from occurring.

                  Barry lost, twice, not because he’s fiercely independent and in favor of the common man, but because no one likes him. His best showing was WITH Tony’s money during the recall. After spending a small fortune the following November without anyone’s support, he finished exactly as you’d expect someone with no organic support to finish: In the back.

                  I won’t even get into the other guy. That wasn’t a campaign. It was an economic stimulus for the recycling industry.

                  Nevertheless, we’re all idiots because we don’t see all the signs, don’t believe in wide ranging conspiracies, and don’t talk to dead people.

  2. Joshua I don’t need to call you any names I’m just pointing out that your motives are questionable if you are not following through why are you getting so defensive Joshua what is that on your agenda if you always fall short of holding people accountable

  3. Joshua please give your readership one good reason why you did not demand that the city council take action immediately to sue the contractor and also demand that we find out who it was in the city government that approved and signed off on that 1.7 million-dollar substandard staircase and Fire those city workers because of their incompetence or their graft see Joshua when you hold people accountable you make political enemies is that why you’re not holding these people accountable how could you have walked away from the diasta Manning anything less then everyone involved in this being fired and having the contractor and the engineers sued for stealing from the taxpayers and giving us this pile of junk over the overtime if we don’t see these people now it’s going to cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars to retrofit this overtime as it fails what is wrong with you young man why are you so defensive and evading the obvious no one is attacking you this is not a tirade this is called common sense you went through so much trouble to deliver such a nice and accurate presentation why do you cower at the feet of these people it makes no sense why did you go through all that trouble putting all that together for you not to demand a solution

          1. Nipsey do you mean that tin foil and magnets will fix the stairs and the building code violations and the lawsuit that needs to be filed stop smoking out of Tony’s bong or at least change the water

              1. Nipsey you have a serious problem because you defend the indefensible and ignore the facts and that bye definition makes you a political operative. The Establishment Chris Meyer sycophant political operative
                Cantor taught you well

                1. BarryJoe, you kooks are as clueless about this as you are about nearly everything else.

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