Chapman Parking Structure Deeded to City

A while back FFFF noticed a item forecast on the June 4th Agenda dealing with the property bounded by Whiting, Chapman, Pomona and Lemon – a parking structure built about 30 years ago for reasons still unknown. Curiously, the staff report calls it a “parking lot,” ignoring the fact that it’s actually an elevated parking structure – an asset that cost several million to build. The accompanying Quitclaim Deed only refers to parcels of land on the original Townsite Map, but doesn’t describe improvements on said lots.

According to staff it was built by the downtown Fullerton Parking Authority – which isn’t quite true because the parking district didn’t have any money. It was built by the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency which raised lots of money to waste on stuff like this.

Anyhow, the agendized item turns out to be a paperwork issue to deed miscellaneous portions of the site to the City from the now dead “Parking Authority.” The item was dutifully approved by our City Council.

Obviously, nobody caught the omission when the parking agency expired (another Jones and Mayer success story), but now the timing may suggest that the “opportunity site” as identified in the otherwise unrelated and never-ending “Fox Block” fiasco has attracted the attention of City Hall’s Monopoly-playing, “economic development” bureaucrats.

New Well. Same as Old Wells

A new testing well has recently appeared on Walnut Avenue next to the source of trichloroethylene contamination at 311 South Highland Avenue. Friends may remember that this contamination has been monitored by the Feds and the State agency responsible for tracking such things. Here’s the drill rig crew hard at work installing the well casing.

Of course FFFF has already noted the existence of the contamination of the property and its neighbors in the context of the dismal $2,000,000 Trail to Nowhere, pet project of Ahmad Zahra and his colleagues on the City Council; FFFF also identified ten testing wells on the trail site, plus a couple more in the middle of Truslow Avenue. Apparently testing is now taking place to the north, on Walnut Avenue, too. That’s not very good, is it?

The City of Fullerton claimed and still claims that there is no problem with their trail site and apparently the State Natural Resources Agency, the bureaucracy that doles out grant money, remains incurious as to why no mention of trichloroethylene has ever been made by Fullerton’s environmental consultants in their reporting.

Meantime the City continues its silence about the growing plume that could be moving northward, too.

Of course public employees are indemnified for their activities, no matter how incompetent or based in misfeasance. It’s the public that gets to pick up the check.

I Wanna Paint It Black

So somebody noticed that a new downtown “club” called Kalaveras is opening. Looks like they have painted the rear of their building black.

Apparently they have also expanded their business into an adjoining property.

The trouble is, according to our correspondent, their Conditional Use Permit is only for 122 W. Commonwealth and work is being done next door – at 120 W. Commonwealth – which is not covered under the CUP. Oops. It looks like they’re actually putting in underground plumbing.

Black is the new black…

I don’t know if this information is accurate, but I know if it is, the City will likely do nothing about the scofflawry, Fullerton being Fullerton.

As far as the black exterior is concerned, it’s hard to believe that the City actually approved of this since elevations must have been submitted along with the CUP application, and yet Fullerton’s Planning Department has been so inept and careless in the past that maybe it seemed okay, Downtown Fullerton being all about coolness and hipness and a wonderful, vital, -$1,500,000 per year success, and all.

It’s entertaining to recall that the location of this operation is the same place that Slidebar, DTF’s Nexus of Nuisance used to occupy. That owner, Jeremy Popoff, went years operating without a CUP, breaking just about every rule in the book.

A Shameless Hustle

A good Friend received an interesting piece in the mail the other day, and sent it in to FFFF.

It’s a solicitation from Scott Flynn, President of the FPOA – Fullerton Police Officer’s Association – the cop’s union in Fullerton.

It seems your support of the police union “has been a beacon of hope that has helped fuel many initiatives to make our community a better place.” Somehow your donation helps the cops with their “support” of all sorts of philanthropic efforts. What that support might be is left to the imagination of the reader.

If you give them some big money you will get incredibly valuable gifts as a “VIP.” An “engraved” tumbler and a “custom donor plaque” will be yours for the low, low price of $1000.

Of course the solicitation is based on the idea that the giver isn’t very bright. The obvious first thought is that if you put the FPOA’s decal on you car somewhere, you might just avoid getting that next, expensive, moving violation. Could that be true? I don’t know, but the thought obviously crossed the minds of the solicitors and the donors.

Second, if you look closely at the piece you notice something interesting.

Of course this operation isn’t a non-profit and you can’t deduct your donation. In fact the FPOA exists for only two reasons: first, to use its political influence electing councilmembers to squeeze evermore higher wage and benefits out of the citizenry; and second to remain as unaccountable to the civilian authority as possible.

The whole thing is hardly different than any other mail scam trying to get people to part with their money. There is no charitable purpose here, just a way to get people to support a public employee union by pretending to be doing good works.

Why wouldn’t any intelligent person simply donate to the real and worthy charity of their choice, and get a tax deduction, too?

Just How Muslim is Ahmad Zahra?

The other day I found a communication in the FFFF In Box. It was a note and a picture.

It wasn’t a good year…

Apparently Fullerton’s District 5 Councilman Ahmad Zahra was seen at a recent fundraiser for some kids’ art program drinking the red wine that was being proffered to paying guests. And maybe even non-paying guests, since tickets went for $75. Anyway, I always believed drinking alcohol was a violation of Islamic Law.

Will not work for new clothes…

Zahra has peddled his “first gay Muslim elected official” brand and I’m wondering if he is even practicing the tenets of Islam at all. Word from City Hall sources is that he was seen serially violating the fast mandates during Ramadan – Sawm – observation of which is one of the 5 Pillars of Islam.

Of course Mr. Zahra’s religious beliefs, or lack of same, should be his own business, but like the Christian politician who uses his/her faith as an instrument of electoral salesmanship, we are justified in wondering about the veracity of the claim.

Zahra has made up a lot of stories about himself, and has left out some pretty interesting facts about his ever-morphing origin stories – like having a (female) wife in Arkansas, and the people he represents have the right to know if he ever tells the truth about himself.

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.

Revenue Enhancement

M. Eric Levitt. Will he save us from ourselves?

It seems like every few years Fullerton City Councils are presented by the bureaucracy with a new “fiscal cliff”: It’s done slowly, tentatively, and then with an ever-increasing tone of persuasion, the argument for “revenue enhancement” unfolds.

Revenue enhancement means taxes or debt – one way or another. And so it is in 2024.

With time running out to put a tax increase on the November ballot, the urgency from “staff” is getting more direct. Time has run out for soft-sell concepts like phony push polls of unwitting citizens. At Tuesday’s council meeting our esteemed City Manager is presenting ideas for raising money.

Well, it might work…but, then again…

TOT Tax. What is a TOT tax? Transient Occupancy Tax is a tax levied on visitors who stay in Fullerton hotels. The staff report tells us that several million can be raised with a slight increase and that hopefully we will remain competitive because we are so close to the Anaheim “Resort.” No on can prove this one way or another, but it seems like becoming comparatively less competitive is a poor way of raising revenue. The positive thing about a TOT increase, says the staff report, is that Fullerton taxpayers won’t be affected (unless, of course the concept turns out to be a money loser).

Sales tax. We have already seen the sales pitch on how a general sales tax only needs 50%+1 to pass. We are told that a “1%” increase (from 7.75 to 8.75) on sales tax is being pursued by cities up and down California, etc, etc. Of course they think we’re too dumb to know that this isn’t a 1% increase, but a 13% increase. As with a TOT increase, it’s hard to see how becoming comparatively less competitive is going to make money. The sales tax issue seems DOA. 4 votes are needed to put this on the ballot and Whitaker and Dunlap aren’t going for that.

POBs. And then we see the concept of Pension Obligation Bonds, in which bond revenues are deposited with CalPERS to buy down the actuarial unfunded liability. The idea is that the interest rate on the bonds is lower than the return CalPERS will give us and the difference is all gravy. This idea was floated back in 2021 by then Interim City Manager, Jeff Collier. FFFF covered the proposal, here. One upside is that this scheme is not constrained by the usual debt ceiling limits placed on local governments by the state. Great. More gambling.

Well, there she goes. Don’t worry. There’s more where that came from…

Mr. Collier was kind enough to visit our humble site to educates us on POBs. Friends immediately pointed out the risks involved with POBs, and the lack of skin in the game Collier and his pals had. And that was three years ago when market interest rates were way lower. The equities market is now going through the roof so the idea looks appealing to our bureaucrats, but not to California pension system observers who note CalPERS ever-declining return assumptions and remember the disaster of 2008. Will the City Council approve this gambit? It’s possible, and a public vote is not required.

Hey, you down there…

These various options involve raising taxes or encumbering property to some extent. That’s risk with a speculated payoff. Ahmad Zahra is bound to support anything risky and foolish so as to protect his friends in City Hall. So is Shana Charles, another liberal torchbearer who will tell us this is for our own good; or for the urban forest; or for boutique hotels, or something else nonsensical. Whitaker won’t go for any of this nonsense. Dunlap? Who knows these days. And then there is Fred Jung who had the opportunity to be the third vote to shut down talk of revenue enhancement last year and didn’t.

Hero. Deserve.

A problem with any tax revenue increase is that the increase, such as it were, will immediately be snatched up by the so-called “public safety” employees, whose unions have the clout to grab what they want and everybody else be damned. That’s exactly what happened in Westminster a few years when the cop union pounded the pavement for a sales tax increase, got it, then gobbled it all up. And Westminster is right back where they were before.

The Opportunity Site

A few days back I shared a couple of upcoming agenda items that the City Manager had forecast for the May 21st Fullerton City Council meeting.

I observed the reference to a development agreement with some entity called “Frontier” and also to an item simply called “Fox Block.” The two are related, but oddly, not listed together. Fullerton being Fullerton.

What I didn’t notice at the time was another item called “Chapman Parking Lease” another non-descriptive term, possibly not meant to attract attention.

A helpful Friend point out my oversight and got me thinking. Chapman parking? What the Hell is that? Then the other shoe dropped. There is a city-owned parking structure on the south side of Chapman Avenue, between Lemon and Pomona. It was built by the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency back in the ’90s the heyday of Fullerton Redevelopment, when they had so much money they could build parking structures that nobody even needed. Could this be what the cryptic agenda item referred to? Supposedly the facility was meant to help out Fullerton JC and maybe this is the entity with whom a lease was worked out.

The Junior College District has now built parking structures of its own, using our property tax increases to do it. Maybe the Chapman structure is now superfluous.

Could be. Check this out:

This satellite image has been used to accompany information/propaganda relating to the development known as the “Fox Block.” And the violet shape over in the lower left side of the image is the parking structure.

Hmm. Can this possibly be the site of yet another butt-ugly, monstrously overbuilt, under-parked housing project? Why not? It would be the only part of a Fox Block fiasco that could be worth anything to anybody. And since the City can no longer hand over piles of cash to “developers,” they can certainly hand over free land, enriched by the necessary zone changes.

I’m sure it’s all a big secret now. But in a couple days the May 21st agenda will be posted and maybe we can find out what “Frontier,” whatever that is, might be getting gratis from the people of Fullerton.

How Hard is it to get a Green Card in Arkansas?

Zahra-Busted
Time to come clean…..

About a week and a half ago FFFF linked to a story in the venerable Orange Juice Blog, documenting how our Fullerton D5 Councilmember, Ahmad Zahra, a visiting tourist from Syria, headed to Little Rock, Arkansas and got married to a woman.

Those facts alone would be enough to warrant a sideways glance toward a man who says he gave up a career as medical doctor to live in his car in Hollywood while pursuing his dream: a film-making career.

Zahra’s narrative quagmire gets stickier because of his own origin tale in which (according to his own bio) he always knew he was gay.

So why would a gay man, aware of his gayness, marry an Arkansas woman whom he says he “liked?”

The obvious answer, bolstered by subsequent events, is that our young visitor was looking for a foothold for permanent residency in the United States.

In case you think getting this marriage to do the residency trick might be a real hurdle, a frightful bureaucratic undertaking, a rigorous examination conferring validity, consider the following tale told by a young woman named “Amanda” to the Arkansas Traveler about her Arkansan marital experience with a Middle Eastern immigrant. After their marriage, the immigrant needed to get his status as a permanent resident established:

The couple sits in front of a USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Service) agent and answers a series of intimate questions.

“I heard horror stories about the interviews where people are dragged away from each other,” Amanda said. The penalty for getting caught is five years in prison with a $10,000 fine for the American and permanent deportation for the foreigner.

“I had never been so scared before in my life,” Amanda said. They sat there in a large pale waiting room surrounded by other couples with a pile of paperwork and photo albums on her lap – their entire marriage legitimized.

But instead of the expected – “What are his favorite colored socks? What kind of toothpaste does he use?” – their interview took only five minutes. “OK, you’re both Jewish, good. Are these your names? Good. Your address? OK, thanks.”

Five minutes. Rubber stamp.

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.