Meet the Candidates – Nickolas Wildstar

While we suspect there’s at least one candidate on the ballot on November who will not be responding to our candidate questionnaire under any circumstances, we did receive our second response, from Libertarian Nickolas Wildstar. Wildstar is running in the Third Council district where I live and the only non-incumbent in the race.

To reiterate: all City Council candidates for the 2018 election are strongly encouraged to respond to the questionnaire and their responses will be reprinted in full at our earliest opportunity. All candidates have received the questionnaires already and we hope to hear what the other candidates have to say soon.

Our original questions, and Mr. Wildstar’s responses, are as follows: (more…)

Will Mayor Chaffee Do the Right Thing?

Over the weekend the rumors have been swirling as to the fate of Paulette Marshall Chaffee City Council campaign after having apparently been caught on camera removing No Paulette – Carpetbagger signs. We will probably have a clearer picture of the truth of that rumor at tomorrow’s City Council candidate form, but even if she does drop out of the race, this does not end the story.

Her husband, Doug Chaffee, is currently the Mayor of Fullerton and a candidate for Board of Supervisors. While he was not involved in either recorded sign theft, his title as Mayor creates a conflict for the City to investigate the crime. Also, as an active candidate for the Board of Supervisors race, he has an obligation to speak out on this matter and do what he can to make things right. especially since he was the direct beneficiary of an almost identical anti-carpetbagger campaign against his Democratic opponent in June (one Joe Kerr, aka Cotto Joe).

Tony Bushala (one of the founders of this very blog, although he divested his interest two years ago), though Residents for Reform and his brother George Bushala, paid for the political signs that were stolen and he wants them back. He has penned a written request to Mayor Chaffee requesting return of the signs in his residence and has authorized publication here. As an initial good faith gesture, Mayor Chaffee should be strongly encouraged to return the signs on his property forthwith.

The text of the letter is provided below, (more…)

Meet the Candidates – Johnny Ybarra

Taking a brief break from the non-stop coverage of (mostly) bad news from the Fullerton Police Department, we have received our first candidate response to the FFFF Candidate questionnaire, and it is realtor Johnny Ybarra, who is running in District Five.

To reiterate: all City Council candidates for the 2018 election are strongly encouraged to respond to the questionnaire and their responses will be reprinted in full at our earliest opportunity. All candidates have received the questionnaires already and we hope to hear what the other candidates have to say soon.

Our original questions, and Mr. Ybarra’s responses, are as follows:

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The Friends for Fullerton’s Future candidate questionnaire

With the filing period now closed, the election season is in full swing for the first district election on Fullerton City Council history (the full list of candidates who have qualified and their candidate statements can be found here).

The transition to District elections is proceeding smoothly.

As someone who has run for office before, I know that the single biggest challenge for any candidate is raising enough money to get your message out so that voters even know who you are. Nobody likes the direct mail pieces that inundate our mail box during election season but the candidates who pay for mail are the ones most likely to win, like it or not. And as a voter who has cast a ballot in every election since his 18th birthday, my biggest challenge for every election cycle is sorting through all that BS to find out which candidates have an actual plan, and are sincere about and committed to that plan.

So as a service to both candidates and the electorate, we have prepared the official Friends for Fullerton’s Future City Council candidate questionnaire, which we will email it to all candidates who qualify for the ballot. Unlike most questionnaires, ours has no word limit. Brevity is always recommended, but if you think your position takes three or more paragraphs to explain, then that’s what it takes. Whatever you write, we will publish it, in full, and let other residents know where you stand and why. The first one to turn in their questionnaire will be the first article we will publish.

The complete questionnaire is below the cut.

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The Wheels are Coming off Rolling Hills Park

A little over a year ago, we ran an article about the deteriorating condition of Rolling Hills Park (right around the time Parks and Recreation were gearing up for the premier of the so-called “fitness stairs”). We even made a little joke about the condition of a certain fire engine play set:

 

Hey, kids! This is what our City Manager’s car looked like after he totaled it!

Flash forward a year and the joke is a lot less funny, because this is what the foundation of this children’s toy looks like now:

But don’t worry! According to a July 25 email from the City to a concerned resident, this equipment is a “solid piece of play equipment” that “offers “safe play for the time being”

And it will provide many more years of play time for personal injury lawyers after that.

This denial does seem to be a pattern at Parks and Recreation – we also have the fitness stairs disaster (documented by Mr. Peabody here), which they continue to ignore, and the Laguna Lake fiasco, which was ignored until the statute of limitations on the architect ran out. At least in this case, the City allows that its current plan is to remove and replace all the existing play equipment as part of its upcoming renovation. To that end, our sources tell us the City has placed yellow tape around the dangerous equipment, which has proven to be an extremely effect deterrent in the past.

You shall not pass!

A community meeting concerning renovations to Rolling Hills Park is scheduled for August 15, 2018, at 6:30 pm, at E.V. Free Church, located at 2801 N. Brea Blvd., Commons Building, Room C-212. If you utilize Rolling Hills Park, or you are a taxpayer who would like to prevent another avoidable personal injury lawsuit, you may want to attend and make sure the City follows through on its promises. And if your neighborhood park is in similar levels of disrepair (or worse) remember: the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Complain loudly and often, and be sure to cc someone at FFFF when you do.

City Council to Decide Homeless Shelter Rezoning Ordinance (eventually)

(Update: According to the agenda forcast, the vote on this ordinance will be held on March 6, 2018)

Writing for FFFF is a volunteer effort, aside from the stipend we receive from NASA and the Round Earth Cabal (which really hasn’t kept up with inflation, if we’re being completely honest here). Our lack of compensation gives us the advantage of calling things like we see them, without having to worry about how our opinion will play with our employer/advertisers, but it also means that issues often come up and none of us here at FFFF have the time to dig into the issue and provide any meaningful commentary on the subject.

This was the case for the recent vote on the Planning Commission, which will soon be appearing before the City Council, to rezone all commercial property to allow for homeless shelters provided they operate with a CUP. The decision was made as part of a settlement with Curtis Gamble filed through the Pacific Legal Aid Foundation. Local resident Scott Hess, who is opposed to the rezoning, has investigated the change to the ordinance, and much of the information below is from my email exchanges with him on the subject.

On January 24, 2018, the Fullerton Planning Commission adopted a code amendment to allow 24 hour Emergency Homeless Shelters  in any of the commercial districts in Fullerton.

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Yes, two stadiums are too many

Regular readers know we have already covered the the proposed Fullerton College stadium in detail (see here, here and here). In a nutshell, the NOCCD Board of Trustees want to turn Sherbeck Field into a 4500 seat football stadium so the Hornets can play football in their own stadium instead of their current location, or the Fullerton High School stadium located less than three tenths of a mile away.

The horror.

The residents around Princeton Circle have been fighting this boondoggle for awhile and appear to be getting organized. They have website, http://www.sharethestadium.org,  and are passing out campaign signs, to spread the word that the Sherbeck Field proposal is a costly and unnecessary boondoggle and should be scrapped.

Admittedly, they don’t hammer on my biggest objection to the stadium – the fact that the funds to build it only exist because the voters passed Measure J in 2014, based on the (since reneged) promise to improve the Veterans Centers on campus, but perhaps their approach will be more effective long term. Either way, this is a good sign that the Trustees have a  well deserved fight on their hands.

Regardless of where you live, the conduct by the NOCCCD Trustees is a slap on the face for every taxpayer who believes in fiscal accountability and responsibility, or who believes politicians should keep their campaign promises. If you want to help the effort to force some accountability by the NOCCCD, be sure to pay the sharethestadium.org folks a visit.

While We Were Away: the Train Kept On Rolling

Enjoy the one way trip to insolvency

The last substantive article to run on FFFF site before its almost four year hiatus was this little gem about the “College Connector Study”, a $300,000 study designed to convince the Fullerton City Council that a streetcar system in costing (in their estimate) $140 million was exactly what the City of Fullerton needed. Why? Well, because building the streetcar would encourage high density development all along the rail line, turning Fullerton from a two story bedroom community into a six story high density, high traffic eyesore.

And, just to be clear, that was the argument in favor of wasting $140+ million on the streetcar.

What, you thought I was kidding?

Based on that report, three members of the Fullerton City Council (Chaffee, Fitzgerald and Flory) voted to make a streetcar part of the City’s transportation plan.

For the next three years, progress on the streetcar has stalled, and a competing proposal in Anaheim (this one estimated at $325 million) was shot down by the City Council after a coalition of good government activists ousted the Chamber backed majority from power. Unfortunately (to borrow the tagline for the Friday the 13th Part VI poster), nothing this evil ever dies, and the Fullerton Trolley is back. And like all bad horror sequels, it’s even bigger and more elaborate than before, while making even less sense.

I present to you, the Orange County Centerline:

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay. Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare.

The Centerline (something which has been in various stages of development at OCTA for over a decade) incorporates the Fullerton plan, along with a proposed streetcar line through Santa Ana, and several other lines. The plan is to run the line all the way through Harbor Boulevard all the way up to the transportation center. This would probably explain why that streetcar has been popping up on the artist conception for the Fox Block (image above).

OCTA recently provided a presentation to the Fullerton City Council at Tuesday’s meeting, which can be found here . No mention of which government entity will pay for the project, but even if the OCTA picks up the entire tab, we will at a minimum be on the hook for the maintenance cost , just as Anaheim is with the ARTIC Wasteland. Anaheim taxpayers have been forced to dip into the general fund for every year of ARTIC’s operation, as the revenue generated ($1.6 million) is nowhere near enough to pay the operation ($3.9 million). But hey – the City of Anaheim was given a fancy trophy for agreeing to shoulder these expenses, so the tradeoff was totally worth it, in some people’s eyes.

The trophy is huge, gaudy, expensive, tacky, unnecessary and completely impractical. It’s the perfect metaphor.

The Streetcar/ trolley concept is an absolutely terrible idea for too many reasons to count. The cost is astronomical , the benefit miniscule, it will render the streets it is located on un-drivable (seriously, just picture trying to make it through Downtown Fullerton with that thing blocking traffic). Oh, and it will also further undermine bus service in the county, because the cost of running a streetcar line is substantially higher than rapid bus service.

So to sum up, the OCTA wants to take Orange County into the twenty first century by spending hundreds of millions of dollars developing a nineteenth century technology designed to service people who don’t need it, at the expense of the bus riders who do. Sadly, this is about par for the course for state and county government, minus the exceptionally high price tag. Lets give the Center Line project – and every other streetcar project proposed in Orange County – the quick, merciful death it deserves.

City of Fullerton, OC Animal Care preparing to Euthanize Your Wallet

Still have any money left over after the state gas tax increases (thanks, Josh Newman), the likely loss of SALT deductions in Congress (thanks, Ed Royce), plus all the state, local and national income, property and sales taxes, licenses, and fees we already pay? Well, too bad, because OC Animal Care and the City of Fullerton are cooking up a new scheme to take even more of your money. And it all comes down to the first law of holes, government style: when you find yourself in a hole, keep digging and hope nobody notices.

On Tuesday, December 19, 2017, the City Council will again be voting on substantial fee increases, this time for the services provided by OC Animal Care. If passed, the licensing cost for a neutered dog will be $51 per year, and the per day impound fee for any lost dog or cat will be increased to $136, plus an initial $205 impound fee on top of the daily fee, and so on; the full list is available here.

According to OC Animal Care, the fee increases are necessary because their current operating budget is only enough to pay for half of the services they provide (with the other half coming out of the participating cities’ general fund).

This shortfall is blamed on the recent decisions in Garden Grove, Stanton, Laguna Hills and Rancho Santa Margarita to contract with alternate animal care facilities. However, the problem is not that these cities left OC Animal Care, but that OC Animal Care’s services are already so expensive that it was in their financial best interest to leave the program in the first place. For example, the City of Garden Grove contracted with Orange County Humane Society in Huntington Beach after their annual payments to OC Animal Care increased from $729,000 to $1.3 million in just four years, and the City believes they will save over $8 million over the next ten years thanks to the switch.

So why hasn’t Fullerton joined these other cities? An opportunity did exist to opt out back in May 17, 2016, when OC Animal Care needed its members to commit to participate in the construction of a new shelter on the Tustin Air Base property.

However, the City Council squandered the opportunity in a 4-1 vote, placing the city on the hook for its share of the construction costs for the new facility without even placing an RFP out to private animal care providers. Even if we were to back out now, we might be on the hook for the cost of construction of this shelter. Oh, and Fullerton currently has an evergreen contract with OC Animal Care because, of course we do, so any effort to extricate ourselves from this failed government program will be complicated to say the least.

Keep the Evergreen Contract or the dog gets it!

But enough is enough. It is time to stop excusing poorly run government programs and to start demanding that we get our money’s worth.

Clean and Green: Recycling Bad Ideas

On Tuesday (August 1), the City Council will be voting on the “Clean and Green” initiative, which calls for an affirmation of the City of Fullerton’s Climate Action Plan (available here).

Get ready.

What is the Climate Action Plan, you ask? Well, it was a report prepared in February 2012 to make sure Fullerton does its part to stop  “sea level rise, changes in the amount of water supply available, wildfires and other extreme weather events.” Good thing too, because Fullerton’s 130,000 or so residents make up a whopping two thousandths of one percent of the population on Earth (0.02%), so Fullerton clearly needs to spent valuable staff time and expenses combating this threat.

Putting together an Unfunded Liability Action Plan? No way, that’s crazy talk!

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