Walk On Wilshire Coming Back

Closed but not forgotten…

Next Tuesday our City Council will once again address the issue of Walk on Wilshire, the bureaucrat-driven “pilot program” that closed off the 100 block of West Wilshire Avenue to street traffic so that three restaurants could set up shop in the middle of the street. The issue is whether to approve an extension of the idea. Pretty soon they’re going to drop the word “pilot” altogether, and we’ll know that City Hall has permanently squatted on the street.

As usual, the staff report is so poorly written that it takes some forensic work to figure it out.

Off we go, into the Wild Blue Yonder…

So far the thing has cost ninety grand, but more “enhancements” are projected – another $80,000. Staff says lease revenue for the past 27 months is less than $36,000, but somehow will go up to $40K a year once two more users build their “parklets” – a silly phrase that has currency among urban “planners.” That remains to be seen, but any way you slice it, with ongoing maintenance costs it will be years before the City recoups its outlay – if it ever does. This concept seems to have eluded the crack minds of our “Economic Development” employees, and our City Council that steadfastly spends more to get less back. But that is the constant theme of Downtown Fullerton.

It’s funny how depriving the taxpaying citizens of their right to drive on a public street is seen as a good thing in some circles – cars bad, bad, bad; and the impact on other businesses on Wilshire Avenue isn’t taken into account at all. Some folks seem to think the experience is cosmopolitan, likening it to a veritable Parisian vacation, but failing to note the difference between a sidewalk cafĂ© and putting tables out in the middle of a road closed for that purpose – something no Parisian citizen would tolerate for a second.

Even though the staff report says it awaits City Council guidance, it is replete with pro-street theft propaganda, including another one of those ginned up polls done by Kosmont whose previous efforts include this hot mess. And it gets even worse.

Staff is requesting an “Asssement” opportunity to locate other places in DTF to recreate the money loser on Wilshire, “vibrancy” sounding ever so much better than bureaucratic busywork and inconvenient street closings.

Well the die is already cast on this one. Zahra and Charles just ooze sanctimonious support for this hare-brained idea; and Bruce Whitaker is all in for it, too, for some nincompoop reason – maybe because his wife likes it. Nick Dunlap recused himself last time and may do so again. Or he may just go along with more staff-driven nonsense. Only Fred Jung seemed really opposed to this scheme, but he’s going to be in the minority.

More Bungling And Intransigence From Fullerton’s Underpaid Bureaucrats

On June 26th the Fullerton Planning Commission revisited the never-ending saga of a Noise Ordinance Revision, mostly as it applies to illegal noise in Downtown Fullerton, a situation that City Code Enforcement has for years been energetically ignoring. Friends may recall that the City Council bobbed and weaved on this issue at the end of 2023 and again in February, without, seemingly even bothering to read the proposed mess of an ordinance. Taking bold action the Council referred the matter back to the Planning Commission who had already rubber stamped it.

But when the PC did review the matter again, the same thing it had already approved, the Commission seemed to have developed both curiosity and courage. On March 26th they savaged the jumbled and contradictory hodgepodge and decided they had better have an on-site examination of the actual problem and the problem makers; afterward they would reconvene.

And reconvene they did, for a “workshop.” Somehow – and it’s not quite clear how – the meeting had been identified somewhere as a “public hearing,” a meeting where important discretionary decisions are made. Even the staff report contained a recommendation to approve the ordinance changes – a formal action. Some of the Commissioners wanted to shut it down then and there, and reschedule the matter; others were eager share their opinions after on-site field trips. In the end the Planning Commission continued the matter so that staff could get it right next time (they won’t).

The staff report itself contained the usual propaganda and misstatements and handwringing that have become the hallmark of Sunayana Thomas, Fullerton’s Planning Director and Economic Development expert. Here’s one:

This statement is absurd, of course.

Then there was the same old litany of difficulties in legally enforcing anything and winning in court. Jesus H., when they don’t feel like doing something they’re just weak as kittens.

Two things emerged during brief “public comments.”

First, Joshua Ferguson pointed out that the notice error was a Brown Act violation and also that a “serial meeting” had taken place. The unnamed lawyer at the meeting who is employed by “The I can’t Believe It’s A Law Firm,” claimed everything was kosher because a quorum of the Commission never met to discuss anything, which begs the question of whether staff itself can organize a serial meeting, illegal under the Brown Act.

Another thing that popped up is that staff, on its own initiative has actually now raised the allowable decibel level that they are recommending in Fullerton’s Commercial Zones to 80dBs – based, presumably, on their field adventures.

Two things remain crystal clear: City staff doesn’t want to do their jobs, and the coddling of nightclub operators abusing their 47 Licenses is going to keep happening until some City Council caves in and gives the bar owners legal license to keep doing what they’ve been doing for 20 years. The long-running effort to protect lawbreakers in Downtown Fullerton will continue for at least a while longer. And every delay makes more money flow into the pockets of the scofflaw bar owners.

Foes of Fullerton’s Future Fail

I wasn’t able to watch the Fullerton City Council meeting last night to see If my predictions would take place. But I’ve heard about it. Some did, some didn’t.

If I knew what I was talking about this wouldn’t be Fullerton!

The item for consideration of a plebiscite 13% sales tax increase, placed on the agenda by Ahmad Zahra and Shana Charles, went nowhere as I supposed it would. In the end the staff report was “received and filed,” a polite way of saying sayonara and into the round file with you.

Hey, you down there…

As predicted Zahra and Charles pleaded ardently for putting the tax on the ballot – even cutting the amount and placing some sort of sunset term. No takers.

What didn’t happen was the appearance of Zahra’s Zanies, his coterie of cult followers, to harass and harangue the Council majority. A little gaggle of folks spoke, discussion was held, and then the proposal was sent to the dead letter office. In almost no time the meeting was adjourned and everybody went home very early.

I wonder if Zahra even tried to marshal his forces, or whether he couldn’t muster any support. Why else agendize the issue knowing failure was certain. Maybe just to check the box.

Put your money in the bucket over there!

It could be that Ahmad’s Aimless Army was busy elsewhere, maybe even pursuing recreation on his famous Trail to Nowhere.

I don’t know if District 4 candidate, Vivian Kitty Jaramillo even showed up.

When the video is available I may get details of who said what, but I’m not sure it matters.

The Tax Meeting

There it goes…

The City is meeting tomorrow to to talk about putting a sales tax on the November ballot.

The staff report wrongly states that the City Council requested this item, which is an intentional lie. The matter was placed on the agenda by the minority of Ahmad Zahra and Shana Charles, two individuals I wouldn’t trust to run a lemonade stand.

Show me the money…

These two fought long and hard to discuss the issue on June 4th, even though no public notice of a tax was on the silly revenue-grab agenda.

Tomorrow we will see a small army of Fullerton Boohoos crying out for a 13% sales tax increase on the ballot. Obviously they want to go for a general use tax because that only takes 50%+1 to win, whereas a special use tax requires 66% – an almost impossible hurdle.

But there’s the rub. A general use tax requires a 4/5 council majority to put it on the ballot, and the pro-tax Zahra and Charles don’t seem to be able to manage the simple majority required to put a special use tax on the ballot.

So what’s the point of this charade? We’ve seen this Zahra act before: mobilize his coterie of “underserved” residents to harangue the Council, and thus embarrass Jung, Whitaker and Dunlap.

Put your money in the bucket over there!

But this is not the ludicrous Trail to Nowhere, and bullying won’t work. There’s only one meeting available to get this done, and tomorrow won’t be it.

“Appetisers” for all…

The only question I have is whether District 4 candidate Vivian Kitty Jaramillo will stand up and support the tax.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Downtown Fullerton saw a ribbon cutting this week for “Madero.” It’s not a new place. It used to called “Matador” but an El Matador already existed in Costa Mesa and the story goes that Mario Marovic, proprietor of the Fullerton place, got sued and had to change the name of his establishment. So an event was held and here’s the scene:

All smiles…

The guy with the green hat is Mario Marovic. That name sure rings a bell.

Right. He’s the scofflaw who got caught squatting on the City’s property on Commonwealth Avenue – the legacy of the Tony Florentine sidewalk theft. When that came out Marovic made a deal with the City to remove the egregious “bump-out” and to be complete by July 2023. Oops. Nothing has even started, 14 months after the start of work deadline. And we know that the City Council has been presented with some sort of legal claim by Marovic, because it was on their Closed Session agenda.

And who is the little guy on the left standing next to Marovic? Why it is none other than the District 5 Councilman Ahmad Zahra, dressed in his usual ribbon-cutting attire, palling around with Marovic and even giving him some sort of City proclamation!

Will not work for new clothes…

Now, we all know that little Ahmad is a notorious attention hound and desperate photo-op seeker. We also know that a City Council agreement isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. But this is really too much. Marovic is still squatting on public property and it looks like no one in City Hall has the balls to enforce an agreement signed by Marovic himself. Instead the City seems to be actively socializing with him.

No Solution in Search of a Problem

Clean sweep

Back on its May 7th meeting the Fullerton City Council had a hearing about street sweeping ticketing. It was such a super-critical issue that the Voice of OC wrote about it here. The author is none other than Mr. Hossam Elattar, the same boob who missed the Trail to Nowhere scam.

So many injustices, so little time…

Reading the Voice article you get the idea that the ticketing was a great social injustice, affecting the lives of what the author charmingly calls the “working class” in overcrowded parts of town. This is the editorial narrative the Voice of OC always deploys in its “news” – the oppression of the underserved.

Of course at the meeting, this same tack was immediately propounded by Councilmember Ahmad Zarha, who would go on to conflate this parking issue with the principle one affecting neighborhoods with too many cars: overnight parking bans. But a hero needs a problem to fix for the “poorer part of town” as he put it. The two issues are quite different since cars of the “working class” are used, presumably, to take those people to work and are gone when the sweeper rolls by. Oops.

The sweeping problem is that regular street sweeping keeps our trash out of the Pacific Ocean and instead goes to a big hole in a Brea hillside. The storm water system is regulated by National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. The age-old practice of allowing cars to park on street sweeping days is no longer a thing.

Good Lord, what a to do over a non-problem.

Staff, to their credit, recommended to keep things the way they are – weekly sweeping of each side of each street, and tickets for those vehicles that haven’t been relocated.

Three proposed “options” added significant costs for more complicated logistics and signage, or a violation of the NPDES permit. Whether these costs were legitimate or just jacked up to undermine the options is open to cynical speculation. Obviously, the violation option was just an obvious non-starter made to look like a choice. And with our latest budget crisis nobody is going to waste hundreds of thousands down this rathole.

Our city council (Fullerton, being Fullerton) hemmed and hawed and finally decided the current system was flawed and requested new options. Our Mayor, Nick Dunlap was not happy with the “one size fits all” approach and found an ally in Ahmad Zahra who again pitched the issue as a discriminatory one since the most ticketing took place in south Fullerton. Fred Jung didn’t say much except to say he wanted something better, or to leave the status quo. All so helpful. Dunlap even proposed possible refunds to ticket receivers.

So just as with the downtown noise fiasco this issue will be kicked around some more. I’m surprised it wasn’t sent to the Traffic and Circulation Commission for lengthy cogitation.

No one really bothered to ask what the big deal was and how come people can’t get off their asses and move their cars. Yes, multiple-hour windows of time are used for sweeping, but in reality the sweeping schedule is an extremely predictable period of time, easily planned for. No tickets are handed out after the sweeper passes. While it’s true people may forget to attend to their vehicles, the cost of a ticket is educative, as I well know. Also, my street is a few blocks away from an overcrowded collection of 1950s apartments with too many cars. And yet, on street sweeping days these good folk are astute enough to relocate their vehicles by the time the sweeper rolls through. And after it does the streets slowly fill up with cars again.

I’m left wondering how this item was even agendized in the first place. Staff didn’t want it, obviously, so it must have been done at the behest of councilmembers looking for an issue to waste their time and our money on.

Getting His Stories Straight?

An alert Friend sent in this screenshot of a website in which Fullerton City Councilman and erstwhile film maker Ahmad Zahra presents his (partial) biography. This was just yesterday.

Just the other day the Orange Juice Blog broke the tale of immigrant Zahra’s marriage to a female in Arkansas – a rather embarrassing fact omitted from his previous self-discovery narrative.

I wonder if Ahmad is combing through his past representations to see what, if anything needs re-arranging.

Zahra’s Past Catching up Quick

Go west young man. Try Arkansas.

The other day FFFF related a story told on the Orange Juice Blog about Fullerton City Councilman Ahmad Zahra having been married to a woman in Arkansas in the late 1990s. It’s always been a blank time in Zahra’s otherwise detailed autobiographies.

The problem is that Zahra has been very clear about being a gay man and “always” knowing it. The unambiguous statements asserting his self-awareness are published in interviews. So how and why did he come to marry a woman?

From beautiful Pulaski County

According to the OJB story, Zahra tells of his arriving in the United States (no mention of what sort of visa he held); and, not knowing a blessed soul, heading to Little Rock, Arkansas where he claims a friend of his father lived. There, says Zahra, he met a woman whom he says he “liked” and who liked him in return. This tepid romance led to a marriage, dissolved a few years later after Zahra had made his way to Los Angeles to learn the movie trade.

The story is so outlandish that it stretches credulity far past the snapping point. The OJB forewent an opportunity to delve farther into the strange tale, but the obvious difficulties emerge with startling clarity.

An immigrant to the United States of America shows up for some reason, not knowing anybody. Is he a tourist? Maybe. But if so he decides to go to Arkansas, of all places – not exactly a well-know tourist destination. Well, there he is in Little Rock. Where does he live? How does he get by? He can’t get a job, at least not legally, so he must have a little something stored up for a rainy day Stateside.

Michelle Salmon

Enter Michelle Salmon, stage right. Somehow our eager young visitor crosses paths with Ms. Salmon. How and where they meet is at the heart of this mystery and is open to some interesting conjecture. Inexplicably the relationship leads to matrimony at the Pulaski County Courthouse where a marriage license is obtained.

Michelle has hooked herself quite a prize catch: a 27 year-old foreigner with no job (legal anyway), no job prospects, and, according to Zahra himself, completely aware of his homosexuality. On the surface he seems like pretty poor husband material for an Arkansas gal, so we have to wonder if poor Michelle was either mentally challenged or perhaps in need of financial assistance.

Zahra makes no mention of his visa status in his story to the OJB, but we have to assume that he received either a work visa or permanent residency status because not long after his connubial union he goes to LA, bravely living in a car on the streets of Hollywood (so he says). His visa would have been helped along by a marriage certificate to a citizen and it’s safe to say he got one that permitted him to stay in the US.

Well, says Zahra cavalierly, the marriage thing didn’t “work out,” what with the husband living in a car in Southern California, and with Michelle deciding to remain in Arkansas “with her family.” Divorce ensued and Ahmad’s new life journey had begun. He became a citizen in the course of time, a fact he shares as if this simple fact absolves him of any impropriety in the acquisition thereof.

Here’s what happened…

Naturally, Zahra tried to paint this ludicrous picture to the OJB as his “coming out” portrait, and invited homophobic and Islamophobic FFFF to “make fun” of the narrative. The old dodge. Homophobia. Islamophobia. Be a victim.

I’m not the least bit interested in making fun of anything relating to Zahra’s gay coming out story – whichever variation he is selling at any given time; except when the story is cooked up to obfuscate what looks like a serious and likely problematic question. To wit: did Ahmad Zahra commit Marriage Fraud to expedite the legal requirements for him to stay in this country?

Surprise: High School District Wants More of Your Money

Just in case you thought the City of Fullerton was the only government agency that wants to put their hand in your pocket, you can think again. Back on April 9th the Fullerton Joint Union High School District held another one of those ridiculous “workshops” where the only work going on is push polling designed to get the school board to put yet another school bond on the ballot.

This item was agendized under the harmless sounding title of Facilities Master Plan Update.

This was none other than an opportunity for the school district’s army of six-figure educrats to sing the blues about how they need hundreds upon hundreds of millions of new property taxes to bring the wonders of technology to the districts underserved teenagers.

Just as the City did, the high school district employed the kindly offices of a consultant, True North, to do a poll. And guess what? The consultant (who specializes in managing technology upgrade projects) informed the Board that indeed, yes, their survey of 695 individuals indicated support for a bond, perhaps not realizing that district property owners are still in the process of paying off two previous facilities bonds and will be doing so for another twenty years.

Well, there it is. As with Fullerton, the District will need to adopt a resolution pretty quickly to get this bond on the November 2024 ballot. These things usually are timed with annual budgets although assuming a victory at the polls remains iffy, indeed.

In March of 2020 the FJUHSD’s Measure K – a deceitful operation from A to Z – went down to defeat. So did the Fullerton Elementary School District bond attempt, Measure J, on the same day. Will the FSD try another bond double-header like they did last time?

Stay tuned Friends and let’s see what happens in June. And like last time we’ll be reporting on the Bond Sales Industrial Complex to see who’s funding such an attempt.