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.

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.

The Quick Brown Fox

Governor Jerry Brown paid a visit to downtown Fullerton on Wednesday, where it looks like he took a tour of the still-unfinished Fullerton Fox Theater with a rabble of current and former local officials in tow. Surely he was impressed.

OK, maybe not.

But why would Jerry Brown fly down to Fullerton to look inside some flopped redevelopment project?

One could guess that battleground Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva invited Brown to pitch some sort of state subsidy to rescue the project; a thinly veiled attempt to buy voters in one district with the rest of the state’s resources. You can tell an opportunity is at hand by the way the local bush league politicos are salivating all over Brown’s loafers. Hopefully someone had a towel handy.

But all of that is just fine. Why shouldn’t residents of Escondido, Bakersfield and Elk Grove pay for decades of Fullerton’s redevelopment screw ups? Mr. Brown, if there’s money to burn on a movie theater, maybe you can fix our decrepit roads and crumbling bridges, too?

Another Felzian Development

Word has got out that disgraced former city manager Joe Felz is working with Crittenton Services on a new “mixed-use” development on Harbor Boulevard. It’s hard to imagine Crittenden – that takes care of wayward and abused girls – being in the land development business so that doesn’t quite make sense – unless maybe it’s to build themselves a new corporate complex.

Is Felz working for a fee so he can profit from all those inside contacts he continues to cultivate after his (and our) municipal humiliation? Maybe he is donating his valuable time for the sake of the charity. Either way, it hard to see why Crittenden would think the services of Felz, who quit after getting popped driving off the road and trying to make a quick getaway, would be anything other than an embarrassment to them.


I’ll drink to that!

A little research shows that Crittenden has assembled quite a bit of real estate over the years. And curiously (or not) it is directly adjacent to the “Fox Block” monstrosity that never seems to go away.

If the city made a deal to get rid of the “useless” triangle parking lot, the rest of Crittendon’s property along with the covering of a flood control channel and the elimination of an alleyway would make a great apartment block.

And finally, I note that the Fullerton Redevelopment Successor Agency is holding on to $6 million for the Fox Block – vestigial redevelopment Monopoly money that will end up in some developer’s pocket.

And Now for Nothing Really Different: Yellowing Observer Bemoans Loss of Fox Block Boondoggle

Dive! Dive!

The folks who write stuff for the Fullerton Observer are either really dumb, or really….

Aw, Hell I can stop right there.

Here’s a bit from page 5 of the recent edition of the bird cage liner noting the reconstruction of the McDonald’s outlet on Chapman and noting that the Council’s failure to blow six million bucks to move it a couple hundred feet has caused the Fox Block project to go belly up and implies that somehow this put the renovation of the Fox Theater in jeopardy.

Wrong! The council finally acted responsibly last summer when they pulled the plug on an emergent disaster of their own creation. And wrong about the “renovation” bullshit, too. Notice how the Observer casually insinuates the idea of “renovation” into the “Fox Block.” Apart from the theater there is nothing to renovate, of course. But the two things were never tied together – except to manipulate the under intelligent.

The whole monstrosity was tied to the Fox Theater restoration to tap into the emotional support for that and gin up support for another downtown monstrosity of corporate welfare. Of course the crew of the S.S. Observer is devoted to the idea that keeping Redevelopment bureaucrats and parasites employed is job one, and common sense be damned.

What? I can't hear you.

Added to the unintentional high-larity is the writer’s assertion that the developer “spent hours” designing a new Mickey D’s that matched the FHS architecture. Well, he may very well have spent a few hours. The product looked like it.

Instead of bewailing the loss of a sure-fire failure, the Observer should be asking what sort of accountability is going to be demanded of the idiots who cooked up the Fox Block mess in the first place – bureaucrats and electeds, alike.

God-awful “Fox Village” Gets Even Worse!

Remember those horror movies when the outraged villagers grabbed their pitchforks to have at the monster? What the “Fox Village” monster could use are a few more angry villagers.

At the City Council “workshop” on Tuesday the new plans for the existing city-created empty space behind the Fox Theater were rolled out. And while the reception by the public wasn’t pretty it wasn’t enough to kill off the monster, either.

What was rolled out were several elevations that raised the curtain on a hideously confused jumble of themes and materials that were supposed to be modernish, but that had that certain flavor of architectural renderings done by crazy people.

Egad. What a freaking mess...
Egad. What a freaking mess...

A hodgepodge of shapes and veneers with no apparent cohesion and not a whiff of aesthetic originality. Stone veneer on the first floor obligatory.

Oy Vey!
Oy Vey!

Have Fox Villagers gone insane? What a mish mash!

Say what?
Say what?

Why are they still trying to move McDonald’s? Didn’t the Council put that idea to rest? And yet here it is again! Can anyone say “insubordination”? Guess not – in Fullerton! And look a parking lot on the corner. Just what downtown needs – another permanent hole in the building fabric of downtown Fullerton.

Send in the clowns...
Send in the clowns...

Ah, the inevitable “pedestrian paseo.” Just lookit all the happy, bedazzled consumers. And that fountain! Precious. Makes you want to make a wish and toss three coins in.

Folks if you aren’t ready to go grab your pitchforks by now, we suggest that we stick a fork in you –  because we think you’re done.

Fox Block Rises from the Ashes

City staff is back to hustle the infamous Fox Block project after it was killed by city council earlier this year. The project was shot down by a suddenly-fiscally-conservative council majority because it included a $6 million dollar giveaway to the McDonalds corporation that would be used to build a brand new fast food restaurant and hand it over to the corporation in exchange for a lesser property that the Redevelopment Agency “needs” to complete the project.

An email from the Fullerton Historical Theater Foundation urges supporters to show up at the study session on Tuesday night to voice opinions on the project. The email also included a first glimpse at the redesigned project:

fox-villageThe rest of the drawings do not seem to be available yet, probably because staff prefers the public to be disarmed of the facts when the meeting begins. That way it’s easier to control the presentation: wax the upsides, minimize the downsides and keep those pesky residents from vocally questioning the dubious aspects of this project.

Judging from the angry crowd that attended the last study session on the Fox Block, the discussion will center around:

  • The height of the buildings and parking structure and their impact on the surrounding neighborhood.
  • The McDonalds move, which still appears in the new plans.
  • The use of empty promises and taxpayer subsidies to control the type of non-viable businesses that residents and staff would prefer to see in the complex.
  • Fake McSpanish architecture
  • The inconsequential relationship of this project to the actual restoration of the Fox Theatre.

So come on down to the Police Department Mural Room on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at 5:00 p.m. It should be interesting.

Quirk Kills Bad Burger Deal; Fox Block Kicks the Bucket

Residents witnessed another rousing victory for FFFF last night as Councilwoman Sharon Quirk wisely reversed direction on Fullerton’s famous $6 million dollar burger deal that would give away a brand new McDonald’s restaurant at taxpayers’ expense.  Pam Keller sensed the inevitable failure of this project and also changed course, sending this turkey down in a 4-1 vote. Nelson and Jones had it right from the beginning, but Bankhead rode this one all the way to the grave.

No thanks, we're not hungry anymore

Now that the taxpayer-funded McDonald’s move is dead, there isn’t much hope for the massive Fox Block redevelopment scheme – and that’s fine by us. The Fox Block had little to do with the popular restoration of the historic Fox Theatre and there was plenty of doubt the that the block would be financially viable even with millions in taxpayer subsidies.  Throw in a little public deception about the height of the buildings, and it’s clear that this project needed to be flushed.

Even if you don’t approve of our approach here at FFFF, it’s hard to deny positive results. It’s good to see our representatives fix bad decisions and move forward. We know it’s tough to admit when you are wrong, but that’s part of responsible governance. Thank you, Quirk and Keller, for doing the right thing.

Fox Block: The Missing Slide

At a recent Fox Block community workshop, the Redevelopment Agency made every attempt to direct public discussion away from the height and scale of the proposed commercial structure. The agency even went so far as to not show any elevational drawings, although they did pepper the room with 1st and 2nd floor plans. Even the blunt question of “how many floors will it be?” was answered with reassuring answer “We don’t know, we’ll figure that out later”.

Well Friends, we have discovered the elusive drawing in Arteco’s proposal that was submitted last year. This is what the audience should have been shown:

Click to enlarge - 68 feet of glorious redevelopment

Why didn’t the public get to see this important drawing at the meeting? There were plenty of concerned neighbors at the meeting who would have loved to see what their neighborhood will look like should this project be completed.

After the nasty battle over the height of the Amerige Court boondoggle, don’t you think they would bring this issue into the light at the very beginning? Why can’t Arteco Partners and the Redevelopment Agency be honest with the citizens of Fullerton?

Time to “Rethink” The Fox


Ever since the City of  Fullerton climbed aboard the “Save the Fox” bandwagon, something was just plain wrong.  Somehow the redevelopment bureaucrats inculcated into the public mindset the story that the only way the Fox could be “saved” was by appending it to another massive downtown housing project. To facilitate the latter the city had to relocate a fast food franchise; to accomplish that they had to buy up property on Pomona Ave. at exorbitant prices.

And so the initial make work myth has created a cascade of expensive, almost comical decisions by the city council.

Why was the linkage between the Fox and a new project a quote “myth”? Let’s apply some common sense to the issue. It was assumed (correctly) that the theater was going to require massive subsidy to restore and to operate; but somehow the city believed this loss could be rolled into a larger, profitable project by some private developer, or to be more precise, the city staff believed they could sell this bag of magic beans to the public. Three city council members (Don Bankhead, Pam Keller and Sharon Quirk) are still waiting for the beanstalk to grow.

magic beans, only in Fullerton
magic beans only grow in Fullerton

There is no logical connection between restoring the Fox and the development of any new project! The fact is that whoever developed this “project” will receive massive subsidies from the Redevelopment Agency which will cover the cost of the Fox, developers do not do anything for free.

And so why doesn’t the city at least be honest: come out and acknowledge the cost of restoring and operating the Fox-and if it is deemed a worthy municipal value grant the money directly to saving the Fox. Or better yet why not let the people vote on weather or not to create a permanent Fox restoration and operations budget? Honesty and transparency. Two other civic values.