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.

Fox Block: Fullerton Rejects Fake Old McSpanish Architecture

The room filled with cheers and applause at last night’s Fox Block community meeting when a citizen stood up and pronounced that the Redevelopment Agency should avoid creating more buildings that are meant to look like fake old clones of existing historic buildings.

The developer who was giving the presentation wanted to make sure that he was hearing this right… he asked for a show of hands – who wants Spanish/Mediterranean-style architecture that mimics the current Fox Theater? Two people out of 50+ raised their hands. Judging by the earlier applause, the vast majority of citizens were in support of creating long-lasting buildings in a contemporary style that would one day become historically significant themselves. The developer even went on to openly mock existing redevelopment buildings in Fullerton, at which point Redevelopment Director Rob Zur Schmiede stood up and absolved himself of responsibility, saying that the fake old buildings were created before his tenure.

Where did this sudden hatred of fake old design come from? We can only surmise that the audience was filled with citizens who have been reading this very blog, which has been loudly criticizing these projects for several months.

There are still many serious problems with this development project (we’ll get to that later), but it’s good to see that FFFF is having a positive impact on the future of architecture in downtown Fullerton.

Yeah, but what about that McDonalds?
Yeah, but what about that McDonalds?

Time for An Explanation

Hey Pam, put your arms out and see if you can catch this, ready
Hey Pam, put your hands out and see if you can catch this, ready

Dear Friends, we have spilled a lot of cyberink on the subject of the McDonald’s relocation fiasco, and it really seems to us that it is about time for our elected leaders to explain just what is going on and how they got to this point.

No doubt Bankhead, Quirk and Keller believe that they are simply following an inevitable path dictated by years of planning and simply can’t be altered.

Knock-knock! The contract hasn’t even been voted on yet! It’s scheduled to come before the Council/Agency July 7th. Until then, there is no inevitability, only careful deliberation….we hope! You’re  rubber stamps for the daydreams of long-departed staffers! You were elected by US to be stewards of our cash. Is this the best use of $6 million of OUR $$$?

When you are spending $ 6 million to move a fast food franchise 150′, you had better be damned sure why you are doing it, and you should be able to explain clearly why there are no better alternatives.

We suggest that it is high time for a complete review of the entire Fox project history, strategy, and consequences, especially while there still may be time to consider intelligent alternatives.

Sharon Quirk Spinning Like a Top

doesn't it make you feel dizzy?
doesn't it make you feel kind of dizzy?

After receiving a barrage of criticism about her support of the McDonald’s relocation fiasco, Fullerton council member Sharon Quirk informed us and others about her decision to change her decision.

Our Redevelopment sources at city hall have told us that at the latest closed door session of the city council Quirk was dissuaded from her decision and in effect signaled her decision to changed her decision to change her decision.

We weren’t there, but we will bet anything that staff used there favorate standby “you cant do this he’ll sue us” to which we say, “let him“. Once again the bureaucrats at city hall have chosen to stay the course believing as they do that in Fullerton it’s better to hide the boondoggle later than to admit a mistake now, and with feeble council members like Sharon Quirk, they may be right.

Could Quirk Change Her Vote?

I would if I could, but "they" are telling me it's too late :(
Ms. Quirk, are you going to change your vote to spend 6 million in tax $ to move McD's 150'?

Sharon Quirk told me she was going to change her vote on the McD’s. She was disappointed in the way the staff presented no alternatives to leaving the McD’s at it’s current location. She has also told a good friend of ours the same story.

The $6 million McDonald’s move has become a community laughing stock. Even reporter Barbara Giasone, with a long record of fluffy features, ripped into the vote, and followed up with coverage of FHS student opposition.

burgers-and-books45735106Any council member voting for this is subject to an easy hit piece which could be the center of an opposition campaign. “Quirk / Keller and/or Bankhead spent $6 million of your tax dollars to move a McDonald’s 150 feet west–across the street from Fullerton High.” This issue will resonate with both fiscal conservatives (wasting $$) and social liberals (big corporate bail-out).

Changing your vote, Council Member Quirk, is the right thing to do. If you want the Fox project to succeed, put the money into the restoration, not to move a fast-food outlet!

The McDonald’s franchisee doesn’t want it. The high school administration doesn’t want it. And you can bet Fullerton voters aren’t going to like it when you get hit with it in the next election (same for Keller and Bankhead).