Tomorrow the City Council is going to vote on wether or not a business can help kids with developmental issues here in Fullerton after the Planning Commission voted to deny it.
The story is basically this;
Temple Beth Tikvah here in Fullerton has been up on Acacia for generations – since at least 1971. For quite some time they sub-leased to a Unitarian Church and nobody cared at all about it. There was plenty of traffic and a lot of religious activity and the neighbors never said a thing.
Skip ahead to last year or so and that Unitarian Church outgrew the Temple’s property and moved locations and the Temple then leased part of the property to a company called Sage Behavior Services. In the brief window where the Church was moving out and Sage was moving in – allegedly there was an increase in traffic and a neighbor got big mad about it and started to complain.
She complained and complained and complained. Code Enforcement came to the property about 10 times and was never able to verify her complaints but not one to be denied, she kept on complaining and is complaining to this day.
The issue finally made to the Planning Department and because zoning is stupid the City told TVT that they needed to have an amendment to their Conditional Use Permit to allow Sage to operate in their residentially zoned space despite the work they do being allowed by the code. The Planning Department analyzed the business Sage was running and following the municipal code they determined that Sage was *most like* a school that helps developmentally challenged kids.
This is when the Planning Commission got involved and got stupid.
One of the main purposes of zoning laws is to keep commercially disruptive businesses out of neighborhoods and in the spirit of that premise – Sage should have been allowed to operate and TVT’s CUP amendment should have been approved.
Yet despite the fact that the Planning Commission could have limited the amount of activity and the number of impacts on the neighborhood, so far as limiting the number of kids seen per day, they opted to vote against the CUP on the grounds that it was a “business” and “for profit”.
It does need to be pointed out that Commissioners Cox and Hansburg were quite concerned that CUPs are never revoked in Fullerton – which was funny to point out considering that that simply speaks to the impotence of the Planning Commission itself as opposed to a reason to deny a use amendment. Essentially they were saying “we never punish bad behavior so we can’t allow good behavior in case it becomes bad” which tells you all you need to know about the Planning Commission in Fullerton.
But the main thrust of the issue to the majority of the Planning Commission was that somebody profits from helping kids with developmental issues. Had this been a church-run function or a non-profit entity the adversarial commissioners would have seemingly been fine with the current and intended use but since a profit motive was involved all bets were off because something something slippery slope per Commissioner Cox.
I expected Hansburg to be anti-profit because she’s a predictable central planner and I expected the same from Carvalho. It didn’t shock me at all that Thompson was having none of this nonsense and he hit most of the talking points I thought needed to be hit so that was nice. I was surprised to agree with Castaneda over the benefits to our community and his pushback, but more-so surprised to vehemently disagree with Cox’s almost love affair with the anti-profit talking point as well as the ever-growing leviathan that is the State.
Cox got hung up on Sage not being properly accredited as a school or having the right paperwork that he deemed necessary and was rather vehement that the issue was that Sage is a business as though that negates the work they do, the people they help or the actual impacts on the community – the last of which should have been the only real consideration in front of the Commission.
I can name countless non-profit entities that do shoddy work or have more negative impacts and while they don’t have shareholders they certainly have a profit motive when it comes to their own pocketbooks.
Let us look JUST at Fullerton’s education establishment. Like our schools or not – the Teacher’s Union puts their own interests – pay and benefits – above the children at nearly every turn. Like most government unions they’d sooner shut down the schools, harming the educational needs of countless children, then risk a pay cut or reduction in their bloated pensions. So even though the schools themselves are not “for profit”, the motives and actions of the staff and administration are certainly quite often if not always personally profit driven.
Hell, Friend’s for Fullerton’s Future busted the Fullerton Joint Union High School District breaking campaign finance laws by, amongst other things, bribing students with graduation tickets to “volunteer” in electioneering on a local School Bond. A bond, mind you, that would have benefited the Teacher’s Union more than anybody. Teachers and Bureaucrats aren’t exactly working on their own dime or time as is evidenced by our property taxes and their constant cry for more Bond Debt to be paid for by our children and grandchildren.
But they don’t work in a “for profit” business model so it’s fine to bilk taxpayers and put self-interest first so long as you file the correct paperwork with the IRS or State.
The point here is that the designation of “for profit” versus “non-profit” absent from the governing rules in our municipal code in front of the Commission, is largely in our modern times a distinction without a difference when the only real difference is who has the profit motive – shareholders or a union.
Getting back to the point of not all non-profits being equal, according to Charity Navigator the Fullerton College Foundation scored a 40/100 because less than half of their budget goes to programming. The Fullerton Historic Theatre Foundation scores just a 55/100 and the Fullerton Rangers Soccer Club scores a 40/100. It would seem that when you spend over half a million dollars on coaches per year alone there’s a profit motive for, if nobody else, the coaches. The point here is that the delineation of “for profit” and “non-profit” is a non-issue to the way something is used. The Rangers being non-profit for legal or financial reasons wouldn’t impact how heavily they use a park – that impact is solely related to how many parents and kids show up to their games so likewise that financial status shouldn’t have mattered to the Planning Commission in relation to Sage. Sage’s actual impact is what should have mattered and yet…
This distraction of being a “business” or not is just that – a distraction. A distraction being used to deny a Conditional Use Permit that would have the effect of allowing a business to help kids in a school like setting in a residential zone. But because one neighbor decided to ramp up the NIMBY campaign, 3 Planning Commissioners denied these services of the basis of bureaucratic bullshittery that even Staff didn’t believe. Sadly I fully expect the Council to follow suit in denying services on the basis of a distinction without a functional difference all because they’re too cowardly to stand up for a business that admits that they make a profit instead of hiding their motives behind the lie of a 501(c)3.
If only they had the correct bureaucratic and union approved credentials & membership profit motives they’d be able to help kids in this particular neighborhood. Maybe if they filed their TPS reports in triplicate Doug Cox could have seen that the issue of neighborhood impact is all that was really in front of him.
If only they had the correct bureaucratic and union approved credentials & membership profit motives they’d be able to help kids in this particular neighborhood.
Because god forbid a business helping kids actually pays taxes instead of just taking them.