$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?

Lets Talk About 600 W. Commonwealth

And My Field-trip to Fact-Check Red Oak Investments

This coming Tuesday the Fullerton City Council has a packed agenda and the most noise I’ve heard over the agenda is regarding the Red Oak Development. For the uninitiated that is the “Mixed-Use” Apartment complex that is being proposed at 600 W. Commonwealth where the Chevy dealership once sat.

Bad Luck O’ the Irish

I’ve written about this project elsewhere but I really want to dive into some of the rhetoric of Red Oak Investments.

When this project was in front of the planning commission back in September the spokesman for Red Oak, Alex Wong said the following:

“This project creates rich, new open spaces that are usable and accessible by the public. The courtyard on Chestnut is very similar in dimension and character to the charming courtyard that is in front of the Dripp Cafe and Stadtgarten. Very similar situation but twin courtyards that match each other on both sides of Williamson are coincidentally are very similar to the situation we have at Wilshire and Pomona, the plaza by the museum. And those are really special spaces. This is a private development but it is proposing to create public spaces that are usable both the people that live there and people who are also in the neighborhood whether they’re working or living there.”

I almost fell out of my chair laughing at this comment and spoke up in the public comments that these “public courtyards” wouldn’t stay public. I also called out the fact that the “open courtyard” at Stadtgarten is behind a wall and through a private entrance which isn’t exactly public nor open. This was false advertising at best and deceptive at worst. (more…)

The High Cost of Bad Development

The Thing That Ate Fullerton courtesy of Orange Juice Blog.

Someone once advised that bad design costs just as much as good.

This is particularly true of development that squanders resources, overloads infrastructure, gobbles up energy and foists snarled traffic on the rest of us.

So how come Fullerton has gone head over heels for massive, five-story (and more) apartment blocks the past five years?

At first I thought it was because there was no planning director and that in this void stuff was happening without any sort of adult in the room. Then Karen Haluza came along. Yes, the same Karen Haluza who, as a private Fullerton resident and council candidate, opposed the Amerige Court (now Commons) monstrosity back in 2008. But now Ms. Haluza seems to spend all her time pitching the same ridiculous monsters that were approved when nobody was in charge.

Then it hit me.

These huge projects are moneymakers, and not just for the out-of-town developers that rake in the dough and move on. They are one-time bonanzas for city staff that haul in huge developer fees and massive park dwelling fees. These fees run into the millions.

Now, let’s say that you are a garden variety city manager such as Joe Felz. You have mismanaged the City of Fullerton into a string of unbalanced budgets amounting to over $40,000,000 in just four years. Wouldn’t you be groping for any source of revenue you could find?

Apart from the physical cost of these horrible projects, there is the obvious budgetary problem of relying on one-time sources of revenue to make your budget shortfalls look less bad. But to acknowledge that problem would require honesty and a degree of professional integrity.

A Glimpse Into Fullerton’s Future

It wasn't safe. but it sure was uncomfortable...
It wasn’t comfortable. but it sure was dangerous…

Okay, Friends here’s a pop quiz. What do Jan Flory, Bud Chaffee, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Bruce Whitaker and Greg Sebourn have in common? Think for a second…

Got it? Of course, it was an easy question.

They are collectively responsible for the overdevelopment of Fullerton. Look around: Commonwealth, Orangefair, Santa Fe, each now, or soon to be home for massive, overbearing penitentiary-like apartment blocks.

The Thing That Ate Fullerton...
Cliff Dwelling Is The Life For Me, or: Thing That Ate Fullerton…(image swiped from Orange Juice Blog)

The ridiculous and deathless “Amerige Court” monster is back, too being pimped by a guy named Cameron Irons.

Follow my easy method, and one of us will get rich!
Follow my easy method, and one of us will get rich!

You remember him, right? County Supervisor Shawn Nelson’s crony who stood to make a $100,000 commission as Nelson tried to ram through the County’s big homeless shelter next to Fullerton’s Commonwealth Elementary School.

Nelson wears his game face.
Nelson wears his game face. Too bad we’re not on the same team.

And there’s very little need to hold our breath until the “College Park” upzone Godzilla rears its ugly head, once again.

Whatever the motivation of our “representatives” to jam ever more high-density residential projects into Fullerton, the result is the same: more burden on the City’s utilities and infrastructure, and above all, more traffic cramming our streets, costs that are carried by all of us as the developer makes his bundle and skips off to his next monster.

Is it really too much of an exaggeration to say that soon the major intersections at Harbor, Orangethorpe and Lemon will become virtually gridlocked at certain times of the day? Soon we may all have to find alternative ways to get around Fullerton.

It’s pretty clear that none of these lofty people have the best interests of ordinary Fullerton residents in mind. In fact, we seem to be nothing more than an annoyance to their big plans, that is if you can call helter-skelter development a plan.

Tonight: Steve Baxter and Fullerton’s PAS Gallery Produce “Art With An Agenda”

I’ll see you there.

By William Zdan:

The term “Pollice Verso” means (roughly) “thumbs down”. It’s in reference to the (albeit incorrect) traditional depiction of a Roman emperor giving the “thumbs down” signal that dictated the fate of a vulnerable/defeated fighter…usually a slave or other “expendable” that was forced into brutal exhibition.
I’ve toyed with the phrase, changing it to “Police Verso”..in obvious reference to the despicable actions that took place in Fullerton last year. In my painting, Dick Jones plays the part of a distant and ineffectual Caesar. He thumbs the fate of the unseen victim in smug disinterest, not even allowing his glaze to meet the atrocity for which he shares ownership. A panel of piggish spectators oversee the event, in uncontrolled animalistic enthusiasm.

When watching a television report with Dick Jones last year, I was disheartened by the comments he had made about the  murder. “I don’t know why he died” was the comment from Jones that affected me the most. Jones made a point to boast about his war-time efforts and how much worse, non-fatal injuries had been experienced there.  Jones, we know and YOU know why he died. And it wasn’t just because of the fierce bludgeoning that he received by your endeared law-enforcement brethren. He died, Jones, because of a culture that still treats other human beings as “expendable”. Because people like Kelly are easily marginalized. Homeless people, especially mentally ill homeless people, clearly don’t count to Jones…and he did not create that sentiment, he just reflects it. Just as the slaves and expendables of the Roman Empire could have their humanity stripped of them by a blood-thirsty crowd, eager to do so…so was Kelly Thomas rendered a worthless item by those people we trust to protect the rest of us who do “count”. As I heard Jones speak, I thought (as I often do), “we have not progressed as a society. We are no different than Rome”.

Despite the (much needed) height of the soapbox upon which I like to stand relative to this topic, I cannot dismiss my own contribution to the negative and destructive culture in which I actively participate. So…the pawn/villian in my painting takes the form of my own image. Shamefully turned away from the viewer, I still raise my tool of destruction above my pig-like visage. I still perform for the pigs and am obedient to the tyrants of norms and expectations. I still pass by countless expendables, which whom I ironically share so much commonality.

I spent much of my young adulthood studying and working with the mentally ill. I worked at occupational, psycho-social rehab facilities for schizophrenic people during college. I even interned at a psychiatric prison for 6 months. During that time, I imagined that my idealism and self-congratulatory understanding of those emotionally suffering individuals would allow me to make a difference. Instead, I’ve become homogenized, like the dizzying amount of conscientiousness introverts that allow people like Jones to have any say in the direction of our society. Despite the fact that Kelly walked the same blocks that I walk every week, I had never even seen him…and wouldn’t have remembered if I had. I stretch my own rubber glove over my hand every day…keeping my fellow man at a distance…careful not to touch the blood that I shared in spilling. Because if I (a so-called idealistic artist with fair exposure to the troubles of the mentally ill) can willfully ignore injustice for the sake of convenience, I am just as filthy a pig as Ramos.

So, I am the ultimate executioner and THAT illness is worse than Kelly’s was. I am the baton-waving brute in my painting. I was never so aware of this until I met Kelly’s mom yesterday. I stood next to her as she looked at the painting that I shat out for this important event. I had jumped onto a cause for someone I never met or cared about. Nowhere in the painting is Kelly’s personal injustice really depicted. Rather, in the form that fell Rome, mine is a self-indulgent view. And here was this man’s mother, looking upon my painting about..well, about something to do with being angry and selfish and pointing fingers, I guess. She said to me, “he was really a good kid”. I bet he was.

William Zdan

Coming Soon: The Kelly Thomas Memorial Art Show and Concert

Friday July 6th @ PÄS Gallery 6:00-11:00 PM  Art With An Agenda. Commemorate the first anniversary of Kelly Thomas’ deadly encounter with six members of the Fullerton PD. Double Click here to download the Press Release.

And then the very next day, Saturday July 7th at the Fullerton Museum Plaza, is the 2nd Annual Kelly Thomas Memorial Concert, Clothing and Food Drive featuring one of  the best bands to ever come from the OC, The Adolescents.

Two great opportunities to show your support for reform in Fullerton without glossing over what happened last July 5th  – the murder of an innocent man.