Fullerton’s Most Useless Bridge

Yesterday, I wrote about the hideous stairs at Hillcrest Park and alluded to the City Council being asked to spend another $5.7 million on Hillcrest Park improvements.  This is Park Dwelling Fund money — an important distinction I will get to in a minute.  You can read the full Agenda Letter here.

A portion of that $5.7 million is slated for the construction of what would become Fullerton’s most useless bridge, if funding is approved next Tuesday night.  No, it won’t be painted orange, and I don’t know the exact type of bridge.

This is just a crude rendering of where the bridge would sit, scaled as best as possible using the City’s drawings.

Here’s the official drawing from the City.  The bridge across the creek is clearly visible below:

I keep scratching my head as to who would ever use this bridge.  It doesn’t align with any current or proposed trail, nor does it connect the park to crowds of people just dying to enter the “Great Lawn” as they want to call it.  The nearest City parking is FOUR spaces at Harbor and Valley View, 425 feet away.

Why would someone opt to walk another 425 feet, over the bridge, to access the “Great Lawn” when it’s right in front of their parking space?

When these parking spaces fill up, the few people desiring to use the bridge will probably just leave their cars at Ralph’s or Chase Bank — or just not bother using the bridge at all.   The next closest City parking lot at Hillcrest Park is 900 feet away on Valley View.  Either way, taking the bridge is the least convenient route to the lawn.

Second closest is the combined Hillcrest/Lions Field parking lot along Brea Blvd.  That measures out to 950 feet away on Google Earth, if, and that’s a big if, you can find parking there at all.  On the weekends, that lot is jammed full of cars with youth sports in session at Lions Field.  During the week, Parks and Recreation has the bright idea to lease parking spaces to St. Jude Hospital for employee use.  They also want to lease Lions Field to Hope International University, presumably during the week as well.  While your chances of finding parking there are questionable at this point, let’s just say you succeed.  From that parking lot, there is direct access to the “Great Lawn” without needing to use a bridge, cross the creek, or walk alongside Harbor Blvd.  A park road already exists.

As an aside, do you think it’s fair for park users to siphon parking spaces away from Ralph’s or Chase Bank and the other businesses there?  I sure don’t.

Park Dwelling Money

All of the proposed Hillcrest Park improvements are scheduled to use cash from the Park Dwelling Fund.  This is the fee charged to developers for every dwelling unit they build.

But wait a minute?  Can’t the Park Dwelling money be used for other, more reasonable purposes, besides a useless bridge?

YES.

Chapter 21.12 of the Fullerton Municipal Code covers this.

21.12.040   Use of funds.
All money collected as fees imposed by this chapter shall be deposited in the park dwelling fund and shall be used solely for the acquisition, development, improvement, and maintenance of public parks and recreational facilities in the City, as proposed by the City’s Five Year Capital Improvement Program.

 

Translation:  The $5.7 million could be used on things people actually want, such as acquiring land within Coyote Hills.

Really, people.  If you think this is a stupid use of funds, this is the LAST chance to do something about it.  The project itself has already been approved, but not the funding.  That’s what they’re seeking approval for Tuesday night.

Send the City Council an email:  [email protected] or attend the meeting on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at 6:30pm and plan to speak during public comments.

Park Barrel Spending … Literally

I’d rather be filled with pork.

Further review of the budget document dump offers lots of worthy material.  Why not examine the “15” Parks and Recreation Fund, shall we?

The only justification they can provide for $15,000 of Landscape Maintenance Supplies is “Substantially increased use of trash can liners in several parks“.  Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Not long ago, I wrote about their brainstorm to launch fireworks from the top of Hillcrest Park on the Fourth of July.  Included in that proposal was an idea to use Lions Field for Fourth of July festivities.

When youth sports are in session (i.e. most of the year), your chance of finding a parking spot at Lions Field in the evenings and on weekends is nearly impossible.  Parking along Brea Blvd. is also used up for the same reason.

That’s okay, when Joe Felz’ Hillcrest Park stairs to nowhere are open — and the kids aren’t playing ball — people can park their cars at Lions Field and climb the hideous stairs when nobody is around, right?  Wrong.

Under this proposal, parking at Lions Field during the day, everyday, will be scarce, if not completely unavailable.

That’s because the footer of the Parks & Rec Proposal offers this wonderful idea:

  1.  Lease the Lions Field to Hope International University, most likely during the day, since youth sports already use it on the nights/weekends.
  2.  Lease the Lions Field parking lot to St. Jude for employee parking use. 

Just as the stairs are a terrible waste of money and devoid of any logic, so too is the idea to lease parking spaces to St. Jude for profit.  This is how Parks & Recreation operates:  (1) waste a ton of money on something completely unnecessary that benefits less than 1% of Fullerton residents, (2) realize there isn’t enough money to support it, (3) come up with some scheme to siphon money away from the end user.

Leasing the Lions Field parking lot creates yet another reason for Fullerton residents not to use the stairs.

Oh, and by the way, the Park Dwelling Fee is slated to increase from $11,700 to $12,015 per unit.

I think the time has come to reduce — or even eliminate — the Park Dwelling Fee so that nonsense like the stairs isn’t affordable anymore.  The $12,015 per unit would be far greater used to fix Fullerton’s streets, water mains, and sewers.

Fullerton Makes The Nightly News!

But not in a way that brings anybody any civic pride.

Ms. Pollinger is a well-intentioned person, but she is off target to praise the justice system for collaring itself a bad boy, presumably because the ladder of justice has no top and no bottom. Since the Fullerton cops intentionally failed to collect any evidence and didn’t arrest anybody, there is no crime to prosecute. And anybody who believes this little stage show isn’t designed to tank has taken too many rips on Sergeant Bonghit Schoen’s magical nugg pipe.

 

The $4 Million Elevator That Nobody Needs

It looked so bad another one was needed…

Well, it looks like more loose change has fallen into Fullerton’s municipal sofa. A lot more. And it’s all so funny. The one thing the Fullerton train station didn’t need was another pair of elevator structures; and the last place they needed it was right next to the existing ones.

But that’s where they’re going. That’s right. A new elevators right next to the old ones that the City has failed so spectacularly at maintaining. “Wait, Joe,” I can hear you saying. “Tell us, for the love of SparkyFitz’s God, this is some sort of cruel joke.”

Let the groundbreaking begin. No point in waiting to waste other people’s money, right?

The joke’s on all of us. Even people who have never been to the Fullerton choo-choo station.The whole thing is costing taxpayers $4,000,000 which is almost three times the amount the exiting one cost 22 years ago. The arguments in favor of building this are laughable as you might imagine, and immediately prove that other taxpayers are picking up most of the tab – as it turns out, money funneled through the bottomless suck hole known as OCTA.

Yes I’m on the OCTA Board, and no, I couldn’t care less about wasting four ‘mil.

For instance we “had” to build a new set of elevators rather than repair the existing ones. Why? Taking the existing elevators out of service for a long period of time would result in ADA lawsuit. There is not a single filament of proof for these assertions but hey, that money ‘s got to be spent by somebody, right? For $4,000,000 you could set up a daily ADA access shuttle for 20 freaking years. Of course there is also an existing gate opened by a remote control that could access the other side of the tracks at ZERO cost.

But wait!!! (as they said on those old TV steak knife commercials). The new toy is not free to the people of Fullerton after all. A new agenda item asks for an extra $600,000 due to cost overruns. Just a few lost nickels in Allan Roeder’s couch, right? And listen to the string of incompetencies by our Engineering Department that caused the extra cost:

“An additional $ 600,000 is required for the BNSF flagging requirements, unforeseen utility conflicts, escalated cost in securing the elevator subcontractor and additional assistant in construction administration. Due to OCTA funding constraints, only direct construction-related costs will be reimbursable.”

13 Transportation Center Pedestrian Overpass Elevator – Budget Transfer

Of course it would be nice if some one on our illustrious city council bothered to ask why a contract was awarded two years prematurely, and why our staff needs “additional assistant” (sic) to administer this simple project, or maybe why the job wasn’t rebid. But they won’t.

And so we witness the comical spectacle of two sets of elevator structures side by side, each slowly deteriorating, until 20 years from now some over-paid idiot proposes a third, because as any artist knows, three objects in a picture are much more aesthetically pleasing than two.

Fullerton’s cozy relationship with Discovery Cube

The Discovery Cube is a pretty neat venue for kids of all ages.  Anyone who has driven the 5 freeway through Santa Ana can’t miss the place.

Discovery’s VP of Sales Lobbying Sean Fitzgerald is married to Fullerton Lobbyist-Councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald. City money began flowing to Discovery Cube within a year of Sean taking the job.

Following a promotion in 2014, this press release described Sean Fitzgerald’s new position:

“As Vice President, Sales and Strategic Development, Fitzgerald works directly with the Center’s leadership on a variety of growth-related initiatives. This includes developing new strategic partnerships with municipalities, corporations and other non-profits and serving as a key member of the team working to open DSC’s new Los Angeles facility later this year. In addition, Fitzgerald oversees a sales team working to fulfill the Center’s sales goals in field trips, outreach programming and partner education programs.”

CalRecycle awards Beverage Container Recycling Grant money to municipalities every year for various recycling programs.  Public education is one of several options with which to spend the money.

Since 2012, the City has been paying for thousands of FSD sixth graders to learn about recycling at Discovery Cube to the tune of $27 per kid. (more…)

Fullerton Retreads City Manager Tire

On the City’s website, right above a news release about an upcoming osteoporosis seminar at the Community Center, we discover that the City Council has unanimously chosen a replacement for Joe Felz. Felz, you will recall, drove off of Glenwood Avenue, ran over a tree, blew a tire and tried to drive away in his crippled vehicle.

Not Roeder’s first rodeo…

Allan Roeder, former City Manger of Costa Mesa, is the replacement, on an interim basis. He is part of a small pool of extremely expensive place holders brought in like bullpen pitchers, when the starter gets into trouble in the late innings. These already pensioned-off fellows go on to rake in enormous second incomes while already collecting their massive CalPers checks every month.

The new guy was hired yesterday in a Special, Behind-Closed-Doors meeting of the City Council.

Why the City needs to pay somebody a hundred grand for a five or six month stint is a question you should ask one of your “unanimous” council who seem to be oblivious to the fact that the City is running massive deficits every year, already. Oh well, it’s not their money, right?

Here is our new Mayor, Bruce Whitaker extolling the virtues of Mr. Roeder:

“We are happy to have someone as established and seasoned as Mr. Roeder to serve our city,” said Fullerton Mayor, Bruce Whitaker. “Allan’s experience will be welcomed at City Hall and he will be a valuable asset to the entire city until we appoint a permanent city manager.”

Now did Mr. Whitaker actually say that? Let’s hope it was a canned quotation put in his mouth by some overpaid “public information officer.”  Having Felz around for the past six or seven years is proof positive that from a strictly practical perspective we don’t even need a city manager, and would probably have been a lot better off without the last one we had.

Well, now we have one that can absorb the blame for whatever unfortunate happenstances come our way in the first half of 2017, and be off down the road to the nearest bank.

FFFF Classics – The Baby, the Bathwater and the Blowhard

Crazy? Check. Rude? Check. Gone? Check.

When it came to boneheaded belligerent bombast there was no one quite like former (and recalled) councilman Dick Jones. Here he is in 2007 and 2008 pontificating about downtown Fullerton and the “monster” he created. His endless fixation on the same tired baby/bathwater cliche remains hilarious as he twists it around and around inside his befuddled noggin. If anybody can explain what a “ruly teenager” looks like, please let us know.

The FFFF editorial staff have enjoyed long hours of amusement courtesy of the corn-pone explursions of Ol’ Country Doc Jones captured on this video. The string of priceless HeeHawisms just gets better with age.

Meantime nothing has changed in downtown Fullerton – except the passage of ten long years and more of “yesterday’s felons” than ever.

Slidebar Rock-N-Roll: The Nexus of Nuisance

We’re getting used to things like a City Manager involved in a crash getting a free ride home and no questions asked; for years downtown bars and night clubs have been masquerading as restaurants; Hell, we even had one club owner build a room addition on a public sidewalk and get away with it. How many FPD crimes large and small  have been hushed up, made to go away? Who really knows?

But if ever a Fullerton resident wanted to find an example of how there are two sets of standards that apply to folks in our town, he need look no farther than a greasy institution called The Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen.

Playing the standards...
Poor misunderstood lad…

When it comes to double standards, no one quite succeeds like Jeremy Popoff, proprietor of the Slidebar.

Even if you are not a boozed up troublemaker from Norco, you may have heard of this place and its owner. This was the establishment from whence came the phony call that eventually cost Kelly Thomas his life five years ago. But this isn’t the story of a bar that wanted to get rid of a “nuisance.” No, this post is about a nuisance. A big one.

See, the Slidebar transforms into an entertainment venue at various times during the day, and every night. But the Slidebar has no Conditional Use Permit to so operate as required by the Fullerton Municipal Code. Why is that? Most likely because such a CUP would formally require noise monitoring. And there’s the problem.

Here’s a noise sampling from just outside this venerable establishment:

The Slidebar has been violating both the City’s noise ordinances and the noise levels established in the Transportation Center Specific Plan for years. The cops won’t do anything about it and neither, apparently, will the people paid to enforce the city’s code.

How come?

Stories have been circulating for years that the Slidebar treated Fullerton cops to free food and drink. Is this true? I don’t know, but it certainly gives pause – for a lot of reasons, maybe the least of which is an FPD lack of appetite for clamping down on this public nuisance.

And consider this: Mr. Popoff has made it his business to grease the political gears in Fullerton via campaign contributions. Big time. And is it any surprise that this fine establishment regularly hosts election night parties for incumbent city councilmembers?

I think I need a shower...
I think I need a shower…

Here’s a fun story from the Orange Juice Blog about our lobbyist-councilperson, Jennifer Fitzgerald, partying it up with the Slidebar proprietor, perhaps star-struck by Mr. Popoff’s low-grade celebrity and other mysterious charms. This was at precisely the same time that Mr. Popoff became such an expert at demographics and cartography that his districting map was chosen at the last minute by our feeble city council – unanimously. The sole purpose of that map was to illegally carve up downtown Fullerton – an indisputable “community of interest” – into five districts, thus ensuring that the downtown residents would never have a say in the governance of the open air saloon where they live. And the completely nonsensical ballot statement in favor of this gerrymandered embarrassment was written by none other than…Fitzgerald.

But back to the CUP and noise issues: would it be too cynical to suppose that Popoff’s connections to Ms. Fitzgerald is one of of the reasons this business continues to break the law with impunity?