Parking in Cal State Fullerton is a mess, and it seems that even efforts to alleviate it (like the opening of two parking garages) only makes the situation worse.
Back in 2016, when the City was busy pushing College Town, the promise of addressing the parking problem was the method the city used to try to overcome local resistance (even if their plan amounted to nothing more than the creation of a “Parking Management Plan”, that is, a plan to plan to deal with the problem). Even in the fall of 2021, with reduced attendance on campus due to COVID 19, the campus is offering free parking as an incentive for people to get vaccinated. And when the pandemic finally ends, we will likely see the return of off campus student parking as far south as Orangethorpe and as far East as Raymond.
With the massive parking shortfall, the idea of approving a high density development with almost no parking would be an absolute non-starter. Or, at least, it would be in a sane world.
On September 29, 2021, the Fullerton Planning Commission approved, on a 3-2 vote, the application of Core Spaces to re-zone the property at 2601-2751 East Chapman Avenue (the portion of Chapman running East of Commonwealth to the 57 Freeway) and a allow for the development of a mixed use 420 unit, apartment complex consisting of studio and one through four bedroom units.
All told, there will be an anticipated 1,251 new residents in the City of Fullerton once approved and built. The total number of parking spaces for those new residents is just 273 (with additional spaces for guest parking and the ground floor mixed use). And, no, I did not forget to add a zero.
This isn’t even remotely close to the parking requirements set forth in Table 15.17.070.H of the Fullerton Municipal Code, which requires 1 ¾ spaces for each studio apartment, 2 for each one bedroom, 2 ½ for each two bedroom and 3 for each 3 bedroom apartment. The total required parking spaces should be in excess of one thousand, and its not even a third of that.
Given the absolutely massive shortfall in available spaces, the Planning Commission should have had an extremely solid rationale for their decision. Unfortunately, the decision amounts to little more than the claim that caring about parking spaces is “boomer” thinking, and totally, like, not with it, man:
The notion that the driving a car is a thing of the past will come as a surprise to most of the residents of Fullerton near the Cal State Fullerton campus (myself included), not to mention the students at Cal State Fullerton themselves, who are still clogging up the streets near campus even with the temporary reduction in in-person attendance due to COVID protocols
Pictured: The cars that today’s College Students totally don’t drive.
Currently, over 70% of college age Americans hold a driver’s license and, while that number is lower than in decades past, it still amounts to far more students who will want to drive than parking spaces being offered. In fact, if just half of the licensed students in the Core Communities project choose to drive on campus (a generously low assumption), the proposed parking structure is still about 250 parking spaces below what would be needed, and that’s just for the residents; the available space for the lower level commercial development is grossly underutilized and pretty much destined to failure, as the number of spaces are less than the property across the street owned by Cameron Irons. Incidentally, Mr. Irons was present at the Planning Commission meeting and he insisted the number of parking spaces was perfectly adequate for this development even while acknowledging the same amount of commercial spaces for his own venture doomed the restaurants in his building to failure.
Core Communities insists that they would not be proposing such a low number of spaces if they didn’t believe it would work, but their optimistic appraisals are contradicted by their own prior developments. For example, their facebook page for the Hub at Tuscon basically advises students to not even bother asking for a lease for a parking space as they are all booked and have been for years. Students at the Hub at East Lansing have also complained about the lack of parking (among other issues). And both of those complexes were built in neighborhoods with very high walkability scores. East Fullerton is still highly car dependent, there’s no bars, minimal shopping options, and not nearly enough restaurants to accommodate the students during meal hours.
The Planning Commissioners seem to be aware of this but insist that this is fine, the creation of this development without adequate spaces is a good thing because it will force kids to leave their cars at home.
And there you have it. This Hub project is nothing more than enforced social engineering masquerading as free enterprise. Creation of this development without adequate parking isn’t fair to the students who need the spaces, nor is it fair to the resident who will be forced to deal with the additional vehicles. And it is contrary to the law, meaning the exception being created is not fair to every other apartment complex builder in this City (hell, even Red Oak, which itself had fewer spaces than required by law, is a virtual parking lot compared to this development). This project benefits nobody except the people who intend to build it and it should be rejected by the City Council on November 2.