The Fullerton City Council is about to hand the Downtown
Restaurateurs Bar Owners two big wins and they’re going to continue to slap down the privacy of those in Fullerton in the process.
The first big win for the bars is in changing the rules around operating a bar in the Downtown area. This is partially because city staff thinks it’s too hard to do their jobs regarding enforcement. It’s just so hard to tell the couple of bars without Conditional Use Permits that they’re operating illegally.
The truth here is that it’s so hard to enforce anything downtown because council won’t let staff or the police department do their jobs so they all have to turn a blind eye to illegal operators and this change to Title 15 allows the downtown scofflaws to now operate *mostly* legally.
Except those without CUPs which the city will continue to ignore because favors and cronyism.
This is being sold as a way to make enforcement easier but let’s be real here – every year for a decade+ the Chief of Police (each of them) has signed off on Live Entertainment Permits which themselves say CUPs will be enforced. Our Chiefs of Police rubber stamp LE Permits for businesses that operate without required fire / life safety requirements.
So if the Police Chief is going to turn a blind eye to life safety in order to rubber stamp a permit for a favored business owner why should we believe that these new relaxed rules will be enforced? Because we’re supposed to “trust” these corrupt kleptocrats.
This Title 15 Change is being pushed to allow “legal non-conforming businesses” to now operate quasi-legally but staff won’t even tell use who that applies to in Downtown. We’re offering a form of amnesty without talking about who gets it and for what and if that’s even a good thing.
Ted White will likely prattle on about lumens and the percentage of tint on a window as cover but there are real concerns being omitted here. Why? Because saying “no, we allowed a business to illegally board up their windows with flammable material without fire sprinklers in clear violation of their CUP” doesn’t sound as easy to wash away in a rhetorical flourish such as “how do we know what 15% tint looks like”?
The second big win is the new Downtown Parking Permit plan. This plan is a way to, in theory, charge people for parking at night in order to pay to offset the costs of downtown. What costs? Well the downtown subsidy of course! It’s referenced regularly in the agenda packets.
Knowing that staff references the “downtown subsidy” I asked them what that subsidy looks like and to nobody’s surprise they have no idea. The city ran a “strategic planning session” that told them to be fiscally responsible and yet the basic premise of knowing where our moneys goes is just simply beyond them.
The reality here is that more and more people are going to realize that Downtown Fullerton costs money to park in and neighboring cities do not so why go to Fullerton? We’re not an island and people will figure that right quick.
The bonus to this parking issue is that it’s going to have the side benefit of potentially erasing more of the privacy of every resident and visitor to Fullerton by virtue of the additional “license plate recognition systems” being purchased with asset forfeiture money.
These devices are being sold to council and the public as a way to be more efficient in writing tickets and making sure people play by the parking rules in the city. What is being left out is that the city already owns these devices as is evidence by the Council Minutes from 20 Nov 2007:
The obvious however is how is the current License Plate Recognition System being utilized considering staff is acting like this is a new idea, despite the ownership of such devices? The bigger however, however, here is privacy. Something that, of course, staff entirely omits in their reports. These devices can read a license plate at up to 160mph from either side of a vehicle and they store the data on where your car was located.
Why does this matter? Because they aren’t telling us where this data is or will be stored, for how long and who the police department shares it with or who they plan to share it with in the future.
Anywhere your car is parked is logged into the system forever. The ACLU and EFF are both against these devices without strict oversight and regulations for the very real threat they pose to first amendment protections as well as basic privacy concerns.
To quote the ACLU:
In our society, it is a core principle that the government does not invade people’s privacy and collect information about citizens’ innocent activities just in case they do something wrong. Clear regulations must be put in place to keep the government from tracking our movements on a massive scale.
But does our staff or council care about that? Of course not, they just care about the potential moolah flowin’ to their downtown buddies. Who cares if they have to get it by sacrificing your privacy to get it.