Tomorrow the City Council is going to vote on wether or not a business can help kids with developmental issues here in Fullerton after the Planning Commission voted to deny it.
The story is basically this;
Temple Beth Tikvah here in Fullerton has been up on Acacia for generations – since at least 1971. For quite some time they sub-leased to a Unitarian Church and nobody cared at all about it. There was plenty of traffic and a lot of religious activity and the neighbors never said a thing.
Skip ahead to last year or so and that Unitarian Church outgrew the Temple’s property and moved locations and the Temple then leased part of the property to a company called Sage Behavior Services. In the brief window where the Church was moving out and Sage was moving in – allegedly there was an increase in traffic and a neighbor got big mad about it and started to complain.
She complained and complained and complained. Code Enforcement came to the property about 10 times and was never able to verify her complaints but not one to be denied, she kept on complaining and is complaining to this day.
The issue finally made to the Planning Department and because zoning is stupid the City told TVT that they needed to have an amendment to their Conditional Use Permit to allow Sage to operate in their residentially zoned space despite the work they do being allowed by the code. The Planning Department analyzed the business Sage was running and following the municipal code they determined that Sage was *most like* a school that helps developmentally challenged kids.
This is when the Planning Commission got involved and got stupid. (more…)
You have to hand it to government bureaucracies. They never give up on stupid ideas. But why should they? With all the time in world, huge amounts of money given to them by others, and with zero accountability, what is there for them to lose?
Specifically, I am talking about an item on the May 4th Agenda, dutifully approved by the City Council, to take $1.8 million in State grant money and $330,000 in Fullerton park money to design and build what they are pleased to call The Union Pacific Trail, Phase II.
Of course we all know that Phase I was a total waste of money – a weird “equestrian trail” (complete with pony railing) that has never seen a horse, that was attached to the poisoned and fenced off UP Park that dies a merciful death at Highland Avenue.
Our crack Deputy Parks Director, some person named Alice Loya pitched the item to a less than bedazzled Council, making sure to point out that the area was disadvantaged, an irony certainly lost on City bureaucrats whose job it has been to un-disadvantage this neighborhood over the past 50 years.
Let me share a paragraph from the staff report, that, as usual, is so full of lies to rationalize the scheme that one wonders if the City staff would ever pursue this nonsense if they had to use City funds to pay for it:
The proposed project will transform an existing 50 to 80 foot wide, blighted corridor into a greenbelt trail providing alternate transportation, linking the Transportation Center and several parks, including Independence Park at its terminus. This proposed trail aligns with the Hunt Branch Library to the west, providing potential future linkages. The total cost of the project is estimated at $2.1 million.
Lie Number One: Alternative transportation? What the Hell does that even mean? Walking?
Lie Number Two: the trail would not link anything to the Transportation Center since it would terminate at a narrow sidewalk behind the Ice House that includes a 90 degree turn. And of course just a week ago, or so, our very same staff tried to sneak through an idiot scheme to cut off the UP right-of-way completely with their private event center on the Poisoned Park site.
Lie Number Three: the proposed extension does not link “several” parks. It would indeed terminate at the Independence Park parking lot but the only other “park” it would touch is the fenced off Poisoned Park that nobody even wants.
Almost as good as a lie Number Four: the proposed trail would be virtually impossible to link to the “aligned” Hunt Branch Library, nearly a mile away, because gosh darn it, the rail siding is still being used by…the railroad. But what the Hell let’s throw out the chimera of “connectivity” to fool the dopes on the City Council, right? It’s always worked just fine in the past.
Almost as good as a lie Number Five: when has the City ever built anything on time and on budget? That proposed cost would sky rocket, of course, as Fullerton’s army of staff, consultants, and design professionals hump the “greenbelt” into submission. Remember the wooden steps at Hillcrest Park and the elevator-from-Hell at the Depot?
But what wasn’t said was much more important than the propaganda ink spilled to promote this idiocy:nobody will use this “trail” since it passes through sketchy industrial zoned property, completely empty at night, and would remain, just like it is now, an attractive nuisance that the taxpayers will be on the hook to maintain out of the General Fund.
On the bright side, members of the new Council commonsense majority pointed out that Staff was already devising a top-secret Specific Plan for the area, and gee, wouldn’t it make sense not to piecemeal things like Planning Director Matt Foulkes tried to do on the ill-fated aquaponic farm/event center? They did treat the item as still very provisional, but FFFF knows better – we know that government money once available, will be spent, most likely on something nobody outside City Hall wants.
Naturally, Councilman-in-search-of-camera-opportunity, Ahmad Zahra scrounged up some of his usual misguided acolytes to beat the drum for this utter waste of $2.1 million bucks. After all, this project would be mostly paid for with “free money” of the sort “progressives” love to accept, then waste. We need look no further than the $1,000000 Core and Corridors Specific Plan, paid for by the State Sustainability Commission, that was quietly abandoned, never to see the light of day. And ironically, the old UP Right of Way passes right through the middle of two of the C&C Specific Plan Areas, suggesting to me, at lest, that the City is not, and never has been interested in the well-being of the part of Fullerton accept as something to play with.
An institution, namely our City Council, that has been moribund/and, or corrupt and cowardly for at least 40 years has finally sprouted a few darling buds, raising hopes that our future is no longer simply a matter of waiting for mental and moral entropy to render our city into a puddle of putrification.
Well, what happened? you ask. Last night the City Council pronounced a loud no to bureaucracy- driven nonsense. Let me explain.
Yesterday evening the Council took up the matter, again, of extending an “Exclusive Negotiating Agreement” or ENR, with some guy who wanted to put a non-profit aquaponic farm on the site of our embarrassingly fenced off Union Pacific Park on Truslow Avenue. The biggest trouble (among many) was that this type of venture is thoroughly dependent upon the financial kindness of strangers and can’t possibly sustain itself.
No problem there! said our Planning Director and incoherent word salad shooter, Matt Foulkes. The aquaponic farm shall be surrounded by a fence and a hedge, and a private event center to pay for it all! In true staff fashion a last minute “letter of intent” from an event coordinator was offered up yesterday afternoon to show the marvelous potential of converting a park into a private facility – open now and then to the public – at the convenience of the operator.
Councilman Ahmad Zahra was in fine fettle – drumming up a handful of forlornly ignorant boosters; and his hapless colleague Jesus Silva stammered and stuttered support for this nonsense as well as his limited ability permits. He moved for an extension of the agreement
But then the fun started: several speakers pointed out both the idiocy of making a deal with a single, impecunious guy. Other pointed out the hypocrisy and nonsense of permitting an event facility that has no parking.
Mayor Bruce Whitaker cogently and patiently explained his rationale for offering a substitute motion to end the deal then and there: the park is part of a much larger Specific Plan area being developed (behind closed doors) and it made no sense to pursue piecemeal development with a single individual on the 1.7 acre site.
Councilman Nick Dunlap echoed that idea and observed, kindly, that the aquaponic guy already had 18 months to work something out with nothing to show for it. Like Whitaker he suggested an RFP process to determine ideas for the site.
Finally Councilman Fred Jung unloaded on the hot mess, decrying the City’s inability to address the park over the years and the arrogance of city staff thinking it could determine what was best for “the community.”
In the end Whitaker’s substitute motion carried the day 3-2 with Zahra and Silva trying desperately to defend the honor, competence and integrity of a planning staff that hasn’t got any of those qualities.
So far, Dear Friends, I have first introduced you to the Chair of Fullerton’s Planning Commission, Elizabeth Hansberg. And then I noted the alignment the interests of her “non-profit” – People for Housing – with the interests of the utterly opaque government cartel known as SCAG – the Southern California Association of Governments.
We have seen that SCAG’s ridiculous housing quotas as applied to Fullerton, amount to over 13,000 new units, a number cooked up in their latest Regional Housing Needs Assessment, or RHNA.
“Well, okay, Joe,” you may be saying. “Just a coincidence.”
Not quite. While some justifiably cynical folks have wondered whether Hansberg is shaking down developers by promising fake grassroots support for over-built housing projects, one thing is clear: she gets money from SCAG to help them pursue their grotesque housing schemes that promise to destroy cities and towns through Southern California.
Here’s a SCAG press release announcing grants of $50,000 to $100,000 to various groups who will help them promote their utopian view of a massive apartment block on every corner. And here’s the part that mentions the grant award to Hansberg’s creation:
“People for Housing Orange County. Scope: Empower grassroots activists to advocate for fair and feasible Housing Elements in the five OC cities with the highest potential for economic integration (Brea, Buena Park, Fullerton, La Habra and Placentia).”
Don’t be fooled by the high-minded rhetoric. We’ve already seen that “grassroots” activity has nothing to do with this operation. It’s really all about drumming up public speakers to go to planning commissions and city councils – including Fullerton’s – to try to hustle up approvals. And the concepts of fairness and feasibility have very little to do with the grim reality: in SCAGs “expert” opinion Fullerton needs another 30 or 40 thousand people crammed into massive apartment blocks, by-right apartment units in R-1 zoned neighborhoods, and any other upzoning that suits their end.
I think the idea that Elizabeth Hansberg may actually be lobbied at a Commission hearing by public speakers she is using public resources to gin up in the first place would be pretty damn funny if it weren’t so appalling. Her appointment to the Planning Commission was a mistake to begin with. And now we see how high the stakes for Fullerton’s future really are.
Friends, you may be excused for not knowing who Elizabeth Hansberg is. Very few people know, or care who is on their Planning Commission. But it matters.
Elizabeth Hansberg is our current Planning Commission Chairperson, appointed by the egregious Ahmad Zahra. “So what?” I can hear you saying. Well, contemplate this: she says she is an urban planner, and boy, does she have an urban plan for Fullerton: 13,000 new housing units is the plan, a concept that would increase our population by as much as 33%, upward of 200,000.
“What’s this?” you ask. Here’s the deal. Ms. Hansberg is a “housing advocate” which means jamming as many apartment blocks as is possible into Fullerton. The non-profit she started – People for Housing, now affiliated with something called YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) lobbies government agencies to build housing units. And lots of them. The website brags about lobbying the Fullerton City Council with images of yet another Planning Commissioner in tow – some political opportunist weenie called Jose Trinidad Castaneda,
Their mission is to pursue the current philosophy current in Sacramento to build hundreds of thousands of new units no matter the impact on the current property owners, the infrastructure or the environment. Slow Growth and sustainability advocates are her nemesis.
Naturally this has raised accusation that her movement is nothing but a pawn of the big development interests who are desperate to sink their shafts into the mine of cross-zoning in-fill housing monstrosities. Her cohorts deny this charge, but it still rings true. Why? Because she actually solicits opportunities from developers to engage in political advocacy on their behalf. It’s right there on the website. It gives every indication of being little more than a self-congratulatory shake-down effort.
So who does fund People for Housing, and what are the implications of having this person on our Planning Commission?
Late yesterday afternoon the City of Fullerton announced that City Manager Ken Domer is quitting. Observers have noted a growing dissatisfaction by a majority of the council with Domer’s lack of management ability.
The City press release quotes Domer, thus: “I really can’t stay any longer. It used to be so easy to do the things I do, in the way I do them. Now I have to try to answer embarrassing questions all the time. It’s not supposed to work like that.”
Most recently Domer tried to get the council to go along with privatizing the business registration function – a move that would actually cost the City money, and, by relocating an existing employee, maintain the current employee headcount. This item was rejected by the City Council in a 3-2 vote, now a familiar trend.
In the press release, Domer continues: “I will always value my four years in Fullerton. Working with Jennifer Fitzgerald and Jan Flory was so rewarding for me. And I mean that literally. And of course Jesus Quirk Silva and Ahmad Zahra always had my back, and I had theirs.”
In his brief tenure as City Manager Domer will be remembered for unbalanced budgets, a failed sales tax scam, crumbling infrastructure, lack of code enforcement, bending over backward for downtown bar scofflaws, ridiculous vanity construction projects and many other accomplishments. But he may be best remembered for the City’s reckless lawsuit against this very blog, and the incredibly corrupt decision to approve Joe Florentine’s forgery of an official city planning document.
When reached for comment, former councilperson Jennifer Fixgerald noted, “Ken Domer is a real treasure; a pleasure to work with; worth his weight in gold.”
We all knew that we were going to be bombarded with political mail in support of the City Council’s proposed 17% sales tax hike on this November’s ballot. And we all knew that the City Council hired a PR outfit to blow our money to educate usabout the beauty of the thing – to the tune of $130,000. Of course none of this is legal, but this is Fullerton where everything is legal that the deplorable City Attorney “Dick” Jones says is legal.
Some of the Friends have already received pro-tax propaganda from our masters in City Hall and here is a sample:
As usual, government tries to con us into bailing it out after it has failed so spectacularly the past decade to maintain reserves, balance budgets and pushing back against never-ending salary and pension demands from the public employee unionistas. Care about the homeless? Vote for our tax; Want potholes fixed? Tax! Youth programs? Who doesn’t love ’em – vote for our tax. Seniors? Ditto. Emergency services? They’re really getting hungry. A usual, the propaganda is larded up with misleading information and scare tactics and, gosh, we should be scared.
You will not be asked to reflect upon the reality that this same operation has dismally failed to fix roads in the past; that this bureaucracy has no intention of starting now. A Culture of Corruption in the Fullerton Police Department? Oh, we fixed that years ago – no, don’t look at that body over there, we have no idea how it got there. You’ll have to sue us to find out!
This crew has burned through tens of millions in reserve funds while its spokeholes on the council Jennifer Fitzgerald and Jan Flory lied about balancing the budget.
Good luck, passing this obscentiy, boys n’ girls. The public is hurting badly at the moment and your first recourse was to try to harness us oxen with the yoke of a new and regressive tax. Well, guess what? The yokes on you, City Hall, and you’d better have a Plan B stuffed into one of Domer’s desk drawers if you know what’s good for you.
Pulled from the City of Fullerton’s website, here is the official ballot statement of opposition to the new sales tax proposed by our Mayor-for-hire. Jennifer Fitzgerald. If you think about it the tax proposal is a monumental indictment of the tenure of Fitzgerald and her yes vote, Jan Flory, on the city council. Employee pay raise after pay raise, unbalanced budget after unbalanced budget.
VOTE NO! Ask yourself: Does the City of Fullerton need even more money from me? If this tax passes, every time you make a purchase, you will pay 9% sales tax in Fullerton, the second highest sales tax in Orange County. The ballot measure title is deceitful. This massive tax increase is not dedicated to fix Fullerton streets, which are rated the worst in Orange County by OCTA. Rather, the money would go into the General Fund and could be used for anything. This 1.25% sales tax increase would be permanent. It is general, not specific, meaning the City Council could spend this money on salaries and pension benefits for City Administrators and other City employees. Over the past decade, Fullerton’s failed leadership spent nearly all revenue increases on salaries and pension benefits: Since 2011, sales tax revenue grew by 51%, property tax revenues increased 52%. Between 2015-16, Council majority approved $19.5 million in pay increases. Since 2011, the Council raised its two largest department budgets 41% and 55%. In 2019 alone, according to Transparent California: 146 City of Fullerton employees received over $200,000 in total compensation, while 51 employees received over 249,000 in total compensation. Fullerton pension recipients collected over $43 million. The City has already increased water rates by a whopping 29% since June 2019, and is scheduled to increase rates again by another 11% next July 1st. The facts are: the City had plenty of money to repair our roads many years ago had it adopted sensible reforms and reasonable, balanced budgets. Fullerton should already have smooth streets and water pipes that do not routinely burst. Vote NO on higher sales taxes!
Anti Measure K activist Tony Bushala has lodged a formal request to OC District Attorney Todd Spitzer to investigate whether Fullerton Joint Union High School personnel illegally campaigned for the March 3rd bond effort.
According to State law, it is impermissible to expend public resources on behalf of an election. It’s a crime. Public agencies do it all the time, of course, and generally do it with impunity. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s flagrant. Yet rarely does anybody challenge the behavior. But Mr. Bushala has. Below is a facsimile of an e-mail he sent to Spitzer today.
FFFF has already noted the school district personnel intimately involved in the K scam, and the idea that no district resources were used in the campaign is laughable. The District has already been caught using graduation tickets to bribe kids into “volunteering” for the campaign. Likewise school fences were used for pro-K banners. It’s easily conceivable that the people listed in the campaign reports used District communication networks and even physical space to try to foist K on the taxpayers.
Well, good luck Tony in your endeavor. You’ve already helped save home owners hundreds of million on the K and J grabs.
There is an old axiom among you humans that birds of similar plumage tend to congregate. It seems to have a strong element of truth.
Here is a disturbing image of former Fullerton councilwoman Pame Keller, beneficiary of the scam called “Fullerton Collaborative,” posing with Paulette Marshall – confessed thief, perjurer, and shameless campaign laws violator.
Please provide a caption.
P.S. My inebriated former mistress used to walk me by the Chaffee place everyday and encouraged me to relieve my bowels in their driveway. Was that so very wrong?