$1.6 Million Stairs to Nowhere

Comically happy rendering by overpriced design “consultant”

The City’s budget is a total disaster and so are our streets. But Fullerton’s Parks and Rec visionaries would like us to know that construction is underway on a brand new set of 3 stairs. From Lion’s Field to Hillcrest Park. The cost is $1.6 million worth of small change that fell into the cushions of Joe Felz’s municipal couch, and that interim City manager  Allan Roeder will no doubt tell us isn’t worth worrying about.

Not Roeder’s first rodeo…

Here’s a PR article in the Register.

A typical bureaucracy driven idea that nobody wanted – a very familiar tale indeed for poor, neglected Hillcrest Park. The most idiotic part of the story is a quotation from Hugo Curiel, the drone in charge of the City’s parks:

“They can use (the stairs) leisurely, also for exercise, in a positive way. The stairs will open the floodgates from Lions Field into Hillcrest Park.” 

Apart from the hilarious malaprop (floodgates don’t open to release anything uphill!) the idea that there is a line of people waiting to somehow access Hillcrest Park from the fake turf playing fields of Lions Field is ridiculous.

But if you read the article you will find something a bit more sinister: city staff blaming the state of Hillcrest Park’s botany on the drought. That is an outright lie. The park’s dying plant life and the resultant erosion on the north and west flanks of the hillsides have been going on since the 1980s –  even as the City under the “guidance” of Susan Hunt and Joe Felz wasted all sorts of money on “studies” and an event center and other useless projects.

A pile of dirt symbolized the effort.

A moronic stair way from Lion’s Field that nobody is going to use is the last thing Hillcrest park needs. Are you reassured by the fact that our visionary  “leaders” believe we have $1.6 million lying around to pay for this nonsense?

The Red Oak

Not from around here…

As a professional botanist I was quite interested and amused by the name of the developers of the proposed multi-family monster on Commonwealth Avenue. Red Oaks Investment. Why? Because the red oak is native to the Midwest and eastern United States.

Red Oak.

Okay. Got it. An out-of -town developer with the name of a non-indigenous tree foists a massive project on the populace in an environment where it doesn’t belong.

You know, in Fullerton these days that sort of makes sense.

They Shall Not Pass 

Another public sidewalk expropriated by a developer.

This is the site of the giant mess coming in the 700 Block of South Harbor Boulevard – a behemoth brought to us courtesy of our present City Council, who approved this monster unanimously.

I don’t get it. There’s nothing difficult about a contractor keeping a sidewalk open. It just takes a City that cares about the people who live here and use the public sidewalks, instead of bending over backwards the the developer of another massive, San Quentin-like apartment block. The only thing missing will be the gas chamber.

What Could Be Worse Than a McDonald’s in Hillcrest Park?

How about a taxpayer-subsidized McFullerton to compete with non-subsidized local eateries. It’s Fullerton. it’s Redevelopment. It’s not impossible.

Seriously, could our city council really be contemplating  a commercial restaurant in Hillcrest Park as part of the new Master Plan?

Well, why not? They’ve shown a total disregard for the park an historic resource over the years; for the Community Services Department Hillcrest Park “revitalization” has merely been an exploitation opportunity over the years, much as Downtown Fullerton has been for the Redevelopment Agency employees. So why not?

Where’s Our Park?

Hey, man, where's the park?

The north part of Orange County has a notorious lack of parks and open space. And while the County of Orange spends millions on its park system annually, including vast tracts of parkland in south county, and even on the Harbor Patrol in the wealthy enclave of Newport Beach, us taxpayers up north get almost nothing. We have Craig Park and Clark Park which total about 130 acres; meanwhile the County controls around 60,000 acres of park and open space counting the new Irvine Company “gift.” Now that’s just wrong.

Former 4th District Supervisor Chris Norby kept talking about this unfairness, but he never actually accomplished anything to fix the inequity. Norby’s successor Shawn Nelson also made this topic a campaign issue. Will he be able to succeed where his predecessor tapped out? Let’s hope so. The opportunity for additional parkland, and even bike trails in utility rights-of-way are there. It may not be easy, but some of us voters expect elected folks to do the hard stuff.

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When is An Historic Resource Not An Historic Resource?

As quickly as you can, Grasshopper, snatch the park from its owners...

When it’s Fullerton’s Hillcrest Park, of course. Then it’s a resource of a different kind: an opportunity for City Staff to play upon the sentimentality of Fullerton’s park and history lovers to destroy the very resource that is ostensibly being saved.

They did it 15 years ago and they are doing it again.

I went to Saturday’s latest public meeting to “save the park” and witnessed something quite remarkable. Just like last time the City staff has employed a consultant to remake the park in its own desired form, replete with new facilities it can market or operate, while ignoring the true needs of the old girl.

But this time the ludicrousness of the whole operation became apparent immediately. A representative of the landscape architect hired to foist the exploitative plan informed us all what was wrong with Hillcrest Park. It has bad chi. And all these years we just thought it was neglect by the parks and police departments. Chi. Hmm.

So what’s the solution to clean up the chi and get things all aligned, nice and proper?

A restaurant, for one thing, down by the duck pond; and a new park entrance; new retaining walls along the Brea Creek and an abandonment of the interior roadways might just get that troublesome chi back in balance, we were informed.

Ye Gods! Chi. What’s next, park feng shui?

Use the Force, Luke...

I don’t know how much we’re paying these yahoos to further destroy our park, but I’ll bet it’s a lot. And I’ll also bet that Redevelopment money is picking up at least part of the tab. And ultimately the only way to pay to comprehensively destroy this historic resouce is to use big piles of Redevelopment money to do it. Redevelopment destroying historic resources. That’s not a new theme.

Hillcrest Park is on the National Register of Historic places but nobody seems to treat it like it were. Only last year the City embarked on massive alterations to the north slope of the park without review by the Landmarks Commission.

Well, good luck Hillcrest. And in the meantime may the chi be with you.

News Flash From Hillcrest Park Pals

On Saturday morning from 9:00 to noon, the City of Fullerton and landscape architect Mia Leher will present two alternative master plans for the restoration/preservation of Hillcrest Park. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the picnic pavilion near the recreation center.

Mia Lehrer

Recently the north hill of Hillcrest Park was raped of it’s natural grade and historic landscape. For those of you that don’t know, the city of Fullerton Landmarks Commission is required by law to review and approve (or disapprove) of any changes to local and/or National Historic Landmarks. Hillcrest Park is both. To this day, the Fullerton Landmarks Commission has never addressed the issue of the Lyons Field renovation which included the north hill of Hillcrest Park.

This may be the last chance for real public input. If you want to be heard, the time is NOW. Please show up at the meeting on Saturday. If you can’t make it, you can still join Hillcrest Park Pals by sending an email to: [email protected].

Chris Norby’s Final Obnoxious Vote

What do I care? I'm leaving!

On his way out the door to yet another government job in Sacramento, 4th District County Supervisor Chris Norby paused just long enough to cast a vote at yesterday’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting to support the asinine expenditure of $350,000 on some sort of Viet Nam memorial in a little-known Midway City park.

Forget the fact that there are already two memorials to the war and to the subsequent diaspora in the vicinity; and forget the fact that times are tough and the County is in severe budget cutting mode; but ask: why on the Green Planet Earth should the taxpayers hand over a third of a million bucks to some kind of private “community culture and performing arts society” to design and build what is described as an interactive wall/memorial of some sort. This is the sort of thing that is routinely developed and built with private fund raising.

The whole concoction was the brain-child of Supervisor Janet Nguyen, obviously for political capital. The County Parks Director, some guy named Mark Denny, seems to have gone along without a whimper. We found out that he’s a former staffer to one of the other zeroes that voted for this – Bill Campbell – so no surprise there. The other aye vote on the Board was the clueless septuagenarian Pat Bates who, like Campbell,  is not known for adherence to any conservative principles. To his credit, Supervisor John Moorlach voted no.

Which brings us back to Norby, who, at his last Board meeting, could have reminded people what he has always claimed to stand for – and often has. But he didn’t.

Good bye and good….well, you know.

The City is Violating Its Own Law in Hillcrest Park

hillcrest3837792771_0217528a41

If you’ve driven along Brea Boulevard lately you will have noticed that the north hill side of Hillcrest Park has been completely scraped as part of the so-called Lions Field improvements. Well, the hillside was suffering from total (and I mean complete) negligence on the part of the City for decades. What is being built, are large retaining structures to “stabilize” the slope. The only problem is that what the slope needed to stabilize it was appropriate landscaping – a solution that the parks Department ignored for years.

The addition of retaining structures in the park is inappropriate. More than that, it’s illegal. Hillcrest Park is a designated Fullerton Landmark (#6) and as such the types of alteration being proposed  should have been reviewed in a public hearing by the Landmarks Commission. This never happened. It’s true that Hillcrest Park doesn’t fit into any of the categories included in the watered-down version of the Landmarks Ordinance passed by the City about 12 years ago. But adherence to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards is one key. Another issue is that of demolition and replacement of historic elements. Even the watered down code has a spirit that has not been observed.

Once again the City has ignored its own laws, laws that you or I would be expected to follow. It has specifically ignored the Landmark Ordinance once again, a part of the Zoning Code that the City has habitually and serially abused over the years (if you want I’ll make a list).

For years the City has turned over the park to pervs and low-lifes while ignoring the historic built environment. And now it seems they are embarked on another form of abuse of an historic resource.