Quick, Hide Your Assets!

Tuesday night’s city council meeting includes an agenda item asking the council to approve transferring all assets owned by the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency to the City of Fullerton.  Agenda item number 12 asks the city to take ownership of a soup to nuts inventory of everything the Redevelopment Agency has been using our bond money to buy for the last few decades.

In an urgent sounding letter to the council Acting Redevelopment Director Romona Castaneda explains that the council may only have a few weeks to move these assets from one pocket to the other if the state adopts Gov. Brown’s budget plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies.  If this happens, it seems, the agency will be forced to sell the properties “expeditiously” and turn over the proceeds to the county.

One has to wonder what would happen if Redevelopment was indeed forced to sell all eighty of its properties, including the Fox Theater, the empty lot where four craftsmen era houses were torn down just east of it, Union Pacific Park, the site of Costco, a 2001 Chevrolet Malibu (?),  the Santa Fe Depot, and some fencing around the Police Department.  It’s a fun list.

The city would still be required to move forward with projects already approved for these properties, including affordable housing projects.  Anybody have a guess about how legal this maneuver is?

The Bright Lights of Soco

Have you noticed the ever present searchlight in the sky above downtown each night?  Could you possibly miss it?  Anyone curious enough to follow this beacon to its source will find it right outside of Joe’s restaurant in Soco:

Say, do you think Joe’s has some kind of permit for that thing?  If they do, I’ll bet they didn’t tell anyone they were going to park it in the middle of a sidewalk, blocking access for everyone, including people in wheelchairs.  I’m guessing they probably aren’t supposed to have it set up in front of a handicapped parking space either.  And I’m pretty sure they aren’t supposed to cable it to a natural gas meter pipe!

And while you’re there be sure to turn around and wish Rosco’s a Happy New Year!

Sharon Quirk-Silva, Another Serial Endorser?

I guess elected officials get some kind of a kick out of handing out endorsements to other candidates.  Recently I called for Shawn Nelson to choose between Bruce Whitaker and Roland Chi, both of whom he had endorsed before they ran against each other for the same two year city council seat.  I was encouraged to see that Nelson referred to Whitaker as the “only” candidate who would fight for pension reform on Whitaker’s recent campaign materials.

But it seems that Shawn Nelson may not be the only elected official having trouble picking a favorite.  Bruce Whitaker’s campaign website lists among his endorsers Sharon Quirk-Silva of the Fullerton City Council.  Funny, Roland Chi’s latest mailer carries a glowing endorsement of Chi by Quirk-Silva, complete with her smiling picture.  What’s the story here?  Did she dump Whitaker for Chi, or is she just trying to make everyone happy?  Can no one in this city just tell us who they want to win the damn election?

It’s Time for Shawn Nelson to Rescind His Endorsement of Roland Chi

We’ve all heard the story….Shawn Nelson endorsed two candidates for Fullerton City Council, Bruce Whitaker and Roland Chi, before both decided to run for the same seat vacated by him when he was elected to the Board of Supervisors earlier this year. Fair enough, Mr. Nelson. There were three seats open on the Fullerton City Council, two four year seats and one two year seat, and you had no way of knowing when you gave your endorsements that Whitaker and Chi would run against one another for the single two year seat. But that was then, and now you have to make a choice about who you are supporting. Will it be Bruce Whitaker or Roland Chi?

Here are your choices…

Roland Chi:

As reported on this blog,


Bruce Whitaker:

  • Serves on the Fullerton Planning Commission (appointed by Shawn Nelson)
  • Has lived in Fullerton for 22 years
  • Founded Fullerton Association for Concerned Taxpayers (FACT) and repealed an unjust utility tax
  • Statewide Coordinator for Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform (MORR), an organization dedicated to reforming out of control Redevelopment in California

Shawn Nelson, you can’t vote for both candidates. Do the right thing for your hometown and put your support behind Bruce Whitaker for City Council today.

Roland Chi Supported Convicted Sheriff Mike Corona

California Fair Political Practices Commission reports show that Fullerton City Council candidate Roland Chi contributed $1,000.00 to the Friends of Mike Carona during the first quarter of 2006.  Carona was barely re-elected to a third term in June of that year.

Read it here:

Yes, it’s a big list of contributors, but you won’t find the name of Bruce Whitaker on it.

How about a big round of applause for Roland Chi, recently of Garden Grove, for helping now convicted felon Mike Carona to squeak by with 50.9% of the vote, enough for Carona to avoid a runoff in November of that year.  Carona was indicted while in office the next year, exposing the OCSD to needless upheaval and Orange County to national ridicule.

What does this contribution say about Mr. Chi’s ability to judge character?  Do we want someone willing to fall in to line with Mike Carona on the Fullerton City Council?

The Register Finds Time for Sex

It’s been a couple of months since The Fullerton Savage’s debut on this blog drew over sixty responses to the story of a new sex oriented shop in downtown Fullerton.  Now the Register has gotten into the act with a story about the same subject.  Adam Townsend, the author, and many commenters on this blog seem to think I had something inherently against the business in question.  This is what Mr. Townsend wrote:

‘The author called the shop’s merchandise “trash.” ‘The blog said that seeing the underwear-clad mannequins and other sexually-oriented merchandise would harm children and said allowing the business to operate was “engendering blight.’

To be fair, I did use the word “trash”, but trashy isn’t the worst thing to associate with lingerie.  I never wrote that the sight of the busty mannequins etc. would “harm children.”  I did write that they would get “quite an education” from looking into the shop’s windows.  Remember, we are The Education City!

So maybe Adam Townsend got the wrong idea about my attitude toward a sex-themed business.  No big deal, but where he really blew it in his article was when he wrote that I ‘said allowing the business to operate was “engendering blight.”‘

No, Mr. Townsend, what I asked was “Is there any better evidence of redevelopment engendering blight?”  This is no small distinction.  Shops like The Naughty Teddy are sometimes cited as examples of blight when cities are trying to establish redevelopment zones.  Downtown Fullerton has been a redevelopment zone since 1973.  My point, Mr. Townsend, was that despite nearly forty years and millions of dollars spent to push out pawn shops, lure in restaurants, add trees, build signs, commission murals, rehab storefronts, brick street medians, redesign traffic signals, build mixed use developments, and whatever else The Redevelopment Agency unilaterally decides is good for the area, in the end a 5,000 square foot shop that sells lubricants, videos and sex toys to the 21-and-over only crowd is open for business near a major intersection downtown.

Well, just for the record, I don’t really care what consenting adults do for sex and I don’t care what a business sells, as long as both are safe.  But if a city spends millions of taxpayer dollars trying to turn a downtown into restaurant Disneyland or whatever it is they are trying to do with it, I would really like to know how The Naughty Teddy fits into their vision for the whole place.

Did the business lie on their application to the city, as has been claimed, or are they the victims of a prudish municipal mindset?  I don’t know.  Several tattoo parlors have already opened downtown, and the city is right behind that curve.  Look for an agenda item concerning the classification of tattoo parlors on the next council meeting agenda.

One Big Happy $23 Million Community Center

Last week, before all of the excitement about Coyote Hills and the one term history of Pam Keller, the Fullerton City Council approved the conceptual plan for a new community center.  This eighth wonder of the world is to be built right across the street from city hall and the main library.  The existing Boys and Girls Club and the Senior Center will be demolished to make room for it.

This $23 million mostly redevelopment funded project is supposed to be necessary because half of the city’s Parks and Rec programs are farmed out to other cities, and it would be so much nicer to have them under one new roof right downtown, near the new lingerie shop.  The fifty plus year old B & G Club is considered to be beyond repair and the senior center, which isn’t really that old in the grand scheme of things is somehow inadequate.  OK, so neither is an architectural masterpiece, but is it really necessary to tear them both down for this new combined community center?

The idea seems to have been to somehow “activate” the corner of Commonwealth and Highland, making it more a part of the library/city hall/police station/baseball field district.  To that end, the architect has included one of those pretty, and pretty useless medians down the center of Commonwealth, and a little welcoming plaza on the north side.  Placing the huge double gymnasium right up against Commonwealth doesn’t do much to activate the corner, however.

The kids, seniors and everyone in between can all interact as part of one big happy community, except that they still have their own buildings, just closer together than the current ones are, for more togetherness, I guess.  There is a third building they do get to share, just to teach them all a lesson.  You see, it’s a “multigenerational facility”, except that not everyone wants to be so together.

Several seniors have expressed concerns about having to be so close to boisterous young people while they are busy trying to relax with people of their own age group.  As far as I know, no youngsters have yet complained about having to be close to old people, but who knows if anyone asked them during the long, long planning process.

Kids enter from the Commonwealth entrance while seniors use an entrance from the larger, southern parking lot adjacent to the senior center.  This arrangement makes sense if no old people have to ride the bus to get there.  You see, the bus stop is way out on Commonwealth, so seniors would have to walk through crowds of kids all the way down the central axis of the project, to get to the safety of the senior center, which is closest to the railroad tracks.

A seventy-five year old man at the hearing asked why the noisy gym and swimming pool weren’t placed nearest the railroad tracks instead of a facility used by the aged.  The ever helpful and certainly senior Dr. Dick Jones suggested that seniors were hard of hearing anyway before voting to approve the plan.  Not to be outdone, even more senior Don Bankhead addressed a concern about the new Commonwealth median restricting bicycle traffic by asserting that it is perfectly legal to ride on the sidewalk in Fullerton —presumably right through seniors exiting a bus.

The Missing Conversation with the Redevelopment Department

Last Thursday marked the second in a five part series of presentations at the Fullerton Museum Center entitled “Conversations with your City”.  Organized by Fullerton City Council member Sharon Quirk-Silva, each evening features managers and directors of some of our city’s most prominent departments, including Police Chief Michael Sellers and City Manager Chris Meyer.  June 24 brings Parks and Recreation Director Joe Felz, followed by August 26 with Fire Chief Wolfgang Knabe, and ends with an October 28 double header with Engineering Director Don Hoppe and Maintenance Services Director Bob Savage.  Just about everyone you’d want to talk to as an active member of your community, right?

Conspicuously missing are the Community Development and Redevelopment Department directors.  As it happens, Community Development (aka Planning Dept.) Director John Godlewski will finish his contract with Fullerton very soon.  Who knows when his successor will be hired, so perhaps it was just awkward to try to schedule someone to speak with the public about that department.

But Redevelopment is something of a puzzling omission.  Why was Redevelopment Director Robert Zur Schmiede not included in this series of conversations with our city?  After all, his department’s current fiscal year budget is over $ 13 million, about twice that of the Parks and Rec. Dept., and nearly twice the budget of Community Development (see them all here.)  Redevelopment does big things.  You’d think they would be proud to talk to us about their past accomplishments and how they can be more responsive to all of us (because you know that’s what everyone else will say is the goal of their departments).

Did no one invite Mr. Zur Schmiede to the party?  Or does it go without saying that the Redevelopment Department simply isn’t thought of as being accountable to the people of Fullerton?  Mr. Zur Schmiede answers directly to the Redevelopment Agency, better known as your city council.  Wouldn’t you like to have an hour or to ask Robert Zur Schmiede a few questions about how his agency operates?

Battle of the Downtown Chrises

Tonight Fullerton residents have their choice of attending the special Earth Day Fullerton Market and/or attending one of two presentations, one by newly minted Assemblyman Chris Norby and one by the venerable Fullerton City Manager Chris Meyer.  Take your pick:

Assemblyman Chris Norby invites citizens to share their thoughts on taxes, education, transportation or any other issue important to them.

7:00 – 9:00 pm, Fullerton Senior Center, 340 W. Commonwealth Ave.


City Councilwoman Sharon Quirk-Silva introduces citizens to the people who keep the city running smoothly and efficiently.  Guest speaker will be City Manager Chris Meyer.

7:30 pm, Fullerton Museum Center, 301 N. Pomona Ave.

Or you can just drink in the beer garden.  But there are so many things to talk about with both of them, so I do hope you will attend one or the other.

From Pawn Shop to Sex Shop in Downtown Fullerton

How did an empty pawn shop become a sex shop?

For months the 219 W. Commonwealth has stood depressingly empty, but at least the trash was on the outside.  Now it seems that Commonwealth will sport its very own lingerie shop just two short city blocks from the Boys and Girls Club and the Senior Center.  And that’s if we’re lucky, and they limit their wares to the wearable variety.

The lights went off one by one just as I began to take some snapshots of the buxom mannequins through the iron gated windows.  Such class in our fair city–”The Education City”.  Well, some kids are going to get quite an education from across the street at the friendly gelato cafe.  I guess there will be something skimpy dressing these hotties to keep them from showing off too much, but is this really what was envisioned for our downtown?  Where is zoning on this one?  How long has this area been a redevelopment zone?  Is there any better evidence of redevelopment engendering blight?