No Solution in Search of a Problem

Clean sweep

Back on its May 7th meeting the Fullerton City Council had a hearing about street sweeping ticketing. It was such a super-critical issue that the Voice of OC wrote about it here. The author is none other than Mr. Hossam Elattar, the same boob who missed the Trail to Nowhere scam.

So many injustices, so little time…

Reading the Voice article you get the idea that the ticketing was a great social injustice, affecting the lives of what the author charmingly calls the “working class” in overcrowded parts of town. This is the editorial narrative the Voice of OC always deploys in its “news” – the oppression of the underserved.

Of course at the meeting, this same tack was immediately propounded by Councilmember Ahmad Zarha, who would go on to conflate this parking issue with the principle one affecting neighborhoods with too many cars: overnight parking bans. But a hero needs a problem to fix for the “poorer part of town” as he put it. The two issues are quite different since cars of the “working class” are used, presumably, to take those people to work and are gone when the sweeper rolls by. Oops.

The sweeping problem is that regular street sweeping keeps our trash out of the Pacific Ocean and instead goes to a big hole in a Brea hillside. The storm water system is regulated by National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. The age-old practice of allowing cars to park on street sweeping days is no longer a thing.

Good Lord, what a to do over a non-problem.

Staff, to their credit, recommended to keep things the way they are – weekly sweeping of each side of each street, and tickets for those vehicles that haven’t been relocated.

Three proposed “options” added significant costs for more complicated logistics and signage, or a violation of the NPDES permit. Whether these costs were legitimate or just jacked up to undermine the options is open to cynical speculation. Obviously, the violation option was just an obvious non-starter made to look like a choice. And with our latest budget crisis nobody is going to waste hundreds of thousands down this rathole.

Our city council (Fullerton, being Fullerton) hemmed and hawed and finally decided the current system was flawed and requested new options. Our Mayor, Nick Dunlap was not happy with the “one size fits all” approach and found an ally in Ahmad Zahra who again pitched the issue as a discriminatory one since the most ticketing took place in south Fullerton. Fred Jung didn’t say much except to say he wanted something better, or to leave the status quo. All so helpful. Dunlap even proposed possible refunds to ticket receivers.

So just as with the downtown noise fiasco this issue will be kicked around some more. I’m surprised it wasn’t sent to the Traffic and Circulation Commission for lengthy cogitation.

No one really bothered to ask what the big deal was and how come people can’t get off their asses and move their cars. Yes, multiple-hour windows of time are used for sweeping, but in reality the sweeping schedule is an extremely predictable period of time, easily planned for. No tickets are handed out after the sweeper passes. While it’s true people may forget to attend to their vehicles, the cost of a ticket is educative, as I well know. Also, my street is a few blocks away from an overcrowded collection of 1950s apartments with too many cars. And yet, on street sweeping days these good folk are astute enough to relocate their vehicles by the time the sweeper rolls through. And after it does the streets slowly fill up with cars again.

I’m left wondering how this item was even agendized in the first place. Staff didn’t want it, obviously, so it must have been done at the behest of councilmembers looking for an issue to waste their time and our money on.