Dude, Where’s My Carport?

Imagine there’s no parking, it isn’t hard to do.

Parking in Cal State Fullerton is a mess, and it seems that even efforts to alleviate it (like the opening of two parking garages) only makes the situation  worse.

Back in 2016, when the City was busy pushing College Town, the promise of addressing the parking problem was the method the city used to try to overcome local resistance (even if their plan amounted to nothing more than the creation of a “Parking Management Plan”, that is, a plan to plan to deal with the problem). Even in the fall of 2021, with reduced attendance on campus due to COVID 19, the campus is offering free parking as an incentive for people to get vaccinated. And when the pandemic finally ends, we will likely see the return of off campus student parking as far south as Orangethorpe and as far East as Raymond.

With the massive parking shortfall, the idea of approving a high density development with almost no parking would be an absolute non-starter. Or, at least, it would be in a sane world.

On September 29, 2021, the Fullerton Planning Commission approved, on a 3-2 vote, the application of Core Spaces to re-zone the property at 2601-2751 East Chapman Avenue (the portion of Chapman running East of Commonwealth to the 57 Freeway) and a allow for the development of a mixed use 420 unit, apartment complex consisting of studio and one through four bedroom units.

All told, there will be an anticipated 1,251 new residents in the City of Fullerton once approved and built. The total number of parking spaces for those new residents is just 273 (with additional spaces for guest parking and the ground floor mixed use). And, no, I did not forget to add a zero.

This isn’t even remotely close to the parking requirements set forth in Table 15.17.070.H of the Fullerton Municipal Code, which requires 1 ¾ spaces for each studio apartment, 2 for each one bedroom, 2 ½ for each two bedroom and 3 for each 3 bedroom apartment. The total required parking spaces should be in excess of one thousand, and its not even a third of that.

Given the absolutely massive shortfall in available spaces, the Planning Commission should have had an extremely solid rationale for their decision. Unfortunately, the decision amounts to little more than the claim that caring about parking spaces is “boomer” thinking, and totally, like, not with it, man:

The notion that the driving a car is a thing of the past will come as a surprise to most of the residents of Fullerton near the Cal State Fullerton campus (myself included), not to mention the students at Cal State Fullerton themselves, who are still clogging up the streets near campus even with the temporary reduction in in-person attendance due to COVID protocols


Pictured: The cars that today’s College Students totally don’t drive.

Currently, over 70% of college age Americans hold a driver’s license and, while that number is lower than in decades past, it still amounts to far more students who will want to drive than parking spaces being offered. In fact, if just half of the licensed students in the Core Communities project choose to drive on campus (a generously low assumption), the proposed parking structure is still about 250 parking spaces below what would be needed, and that’s just for the residents; the available space for the lower level commercial development is grossly underutilized and pretty much destined to failure, as the number of spaces are less than the property across the street owned by Cameron Irons. Incidentally, Mr. Irons was present at the Planning Commission meeting and he insisted the number of parking spaces was perfectly adequate for this development even while acknowledging the same amount of commercial spaces for his own venture doomed the restaurants in his building to failure.

Core Communities insists that they would not be proposing such a low number of spaces if they didn’t believe it would work, but their optimistic appraisals are contradicted by their own prior developments. For example, their facebook page for the Hub at Tuscon basically advises students to not even bother asking for a lease for a parking space as they are all booked and have been for years. Students at the Hub at East Lansing have also complained about the lack of parking (among other issues). And both of those complexes were built in neighborhoods with very high walkability scores. East Fullerton is still highly car dependent, there’s no bars, minimal shopping options, and not nearly enough restaurants to accommodate the students during meal hours.

The Planning Commissioners seem to be aware of this but insist that this is fine, the creation of this development without adequate spaces is a good thing because it will force kids to leave their cars at home.

And there you have it. This Hub project is nothing more than enforced social engineering masquerading as free enterprise. Creation of this development without adequate parking isn’t fair to the students who need the spaces, nor is it fair to the resident who will be forced to deal with the additional vehicles. And it is contrary to the law, meaning the exception being created is not fair to every other apartment complex builder in this City (hell, even Red Oak, which itself had fewer spaces than required by law, is a virtual parking lot compared to this development). This project benefits nobody except the people who intend to build it and it should be rejected by the City Council on November 2.

The Gag

It’s always sort of pathetic when government entities feel the need to burnish their images – as if doing a good job weren’t satisfaction enough. But it becomes almost annoying when we have to pay for such propaganda. Such was the case a few years back when the taxpayers had to shell out $50,000 a year so that our ruinously expensive police department could keep telling us untermenchen how wonderful they are. No mention was made of Fullerton’s tsunami of cop-related lawsuits, of course. The diversion of attention was pretty appalling.

Of course the image is everything and we, poor schmuck check-writers must be constantly reminded of how wonderful and valuable our public employees are and how we must remember this at budget time

Well, our Heroes are at it again. Peruse this Twitter post from City Hall and try not to barf:

National Hero Day. Oh, brother. Hero. Deserve. Selflessly serve? No, if that were really true they’d be working for a reasonable compensation, not gouging out three quarters of our budget for a third of the workforce.

Comically, the people who produced this tripe added maintenance workers to the Hero tribe, presumably for PR effect. These poor step-brothers of our exalted Heroes make a fraction of the wages and benefits bestowed upon their better unionized brethren, even though their education level is practically the same. Why they didn’t add meter maids, garbage truck drivers, mailmen and anybody else who wears a government service uniform escapes me.

Is there a Hero in your life?

Heroes Deserve

So what’s really going on with our Fire Heroes? FFFF published a story recently about an agenda item on tonight’s (9/21/21) agenda. David Curlee brought our attention to a mysterious item about the City revoking it’s automatic aid provision aid agreement with next door Placentia and negotiating a new one.

How come? We really don’t know, except that our Chief, a guy named Adam Loeser says it needs to be done. He hints at some deficiency in Placentia’s program.

Now the Fire Union has made it abundantly clear that Placentia’s cost savings move to privatize the paramedic service was bad. Real bad. And fearful that the contagion of cost effective and efficient service might spread to Fullerton, the union has been putting pressure on our city council to nip this potential epidemic in the bud. To me it looks like the Chief is just passing along his employees lust for our largess.

But what really is the problem with Placentia?

According to a Placentia city report, their new arrangement has been an unalloyed success. Here’s the report. Be sure to peruse the response statistics.

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As usual, there is more to the story. Quite a bit more – that City Hall isn’t Fullerton isn’t telling us. How do I know? Because a source in Placentia told us, and the information has the ring of truth.

According to this source the staff report prepared by Chief Loeser is very misleading in terms of why Fullerton wants to terminate the auto aid provision.  Shortly after Fullerton approved the agreement last year, the Fullerton Fire Union filed a complaint with the Public Employees Relations Board stating that entering into an automatic aid agreement with another City requires a meet and confer with the union.  Incredibly, PERB agreed with the union and Fullerton decided rather than fighting the ruling that the agreement would be retooled into a mutual aid agreement instead.

Unfortunately, our source continues, Loeser lied to the public on an official City Council agenda report by stating Placentia did not meet the requirements outlined in the original agreement.  The real reason behind this change is because of this PERB ruling in favor of the union to the detriment of the public’s safety.

And so, Friends, there you have it. The union, with the apparent approbation of the Fire Chief, is using a feeble labor relations technicality to try to keep applying pressure to the City Council and the bureaucracy to reconsider it’s arrangement with the diseased and contagious Placentia Fire Department. This is the kind of government we get in Fullerton: opaque, self-serving, and duplicitous. Of course our council has been briefed about this, but the public hasn’t. And our city government likes it that way.

Another Stabbing Homicide

This is getting tiresome. The other day, another one.

Somebody found with a guy with a fatal stab wound; this time the location of the corpus delicti was discovered at the Fullerton dog park next to the former Hunt Branch Library. The cops say the stabbing occurred around one o’clock in the morning, meaning that probably somebody else, presumably not the killer, was hanging around the pooch park in the middle of the night, too. Apparently, none of these good citizens understood that Fullerton parks and trails close at sundown.

Well, that’s three stabbing deaths in the past month or so. A casual observer might almost perceive a trend. But I’m not going to rush to any irresponsible conclusions.

It is somewhat ironic that this crime was committed at what our Parks staff believes will someday be a spot on their expensive recreation trail gamble through Fullerton’s no-man’s land. Let’s let Parks “Deputy Director” Alice Loya remind us in a May 2021 staff report:

“…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.”

If we simply discount all the lies in those two sentences, we can discern, besides a comfortably compulsive prevaricator named Alice Loya, a city government unable to attend to existing facilities in this troubled area of Fullerton; and yet possessed of the mindset that remains the same: double down on previously wasted resources and continue the march forward. After all, it’s only other people’s money.

Biden Bonus Bucks Bonanza!

Well don’t just sit there, go get it!

At a special session of our esteemed council tomorrow, our elected and unelected leaders will discuss how to spend the pile of printed money the federal government is sending our way under the rubric of “relief” cash.

This topic came up in June, as I recall, and because nobody seemed to know what the rules were regarding spending the loot, discussion of the issue was continued to a later date. But not before the councilmen weighed in on priorities. Mssrs. Whitaker, Dunlap and Jung stressed the need for infrastructure attention; Ahmad Zahra and Jesus Quirk-Silva tried their darnedest to signal to City Hall employees that all their hard sacrifices would be reimbursed. The matter came up again at an August meeting, wherein Zahra in a thinly veiled signal to the city workforce.

“Knowing that 70% of our services are labor-driven, it seems to me that prioritizing workforce really covers all of these departments. I think that should be where we focus.”

Well, I wonder what that really means. Our pipes and roads are of service to the citizenry and have been neglected for years. Did Zahra add the Capital Budget into his “service” percentage? Bet not.

More negativity. Just think positive!

Poor Zahra will not be at the meeting to dive into a long-winded and condescending lecture on the valuable workforce that has endured so much hardship in the past year and a half. But a lot of folks are just as concerned about the state of their car’s alignment, suspension, alignment, wheels and tires.

Cops Corral Murder Suspect

Not a lot of recreation going on…

The Fullerton police say they have nabbed the suspect who stabbed and killed a homeless man on south Fullerton’s “recreation trail” a few nights ago. The suspect’s name is Abigail Jorge Gonzalez-Castillo, a 29-year-old male from Fullerton, which sounds weird since I have never heard of a man with the name Abigail.

Anyway, the cops believe they have their man but at this point we don’t have any other details, such as if the two – victim and alleged killer – knew each other, and why both happened to be recreating on the “trail” in the wee hours of the morning – one seemingly passed out and the other wandering by. Apparently these gentlemen were unaware that Fullerton parks and trails are closed at night.

The City seems hell bent on expanding recreational facilities in the unsafest part of Fullerton, but this incident and the subsequent arrest will have commonsensical people asking whether this concept isn’t intrinsically flawed. Too bad commonsense and Fullerton City Hall are two nouns rarely used in the same sentence.

The Case of the Florentine Case

It’s true that the gears of justice grind slowly and no where is that more true than in the case of the Florentine forgery. You remember that, right? Joe Florentine, proprietor of the family amalgamation of restaurants on the corner of Harbor and Commonwealth deliberately altered an official planning document so that he could pursue the Conditional Use Permit that he had never bothered to get. That was in January 2020.

Jail is for the little people…

The document was changed to make it look like Florentine was the owner of the property simply because he had a business there. His specious legal theory was backed up by City Attorney Dick Jones, who had his own conflict of interest in the matter and never should have been involved in the first place.

Poor Joe. A victim of circumstance…

To their credit, the Planning Commission refused to deal with the matter and the application was dropped. But the forgery was not forgotten, as desired.

Domer-Decorations
Hitching to Desert Center

The real owner of the building, Mario Marovic became involved in a lawsuit with the City over this complicity by both the City Attorney and the City staff – most notably City Manager Ken Domer and Planning Director Matt Foulkes. When that case was settled to Mr. Marovic’s satisfaction ($25,000 courtesy of you and me) he proceeded to file a criminal complaint with the Fullerton Police Department.

That was over eight months ago.

Finally, we hear from folks at City Hall that the case is finally making its way to the District Attorney. Why it has taken the sleuths at the FPD almost nine months to refer this case to the DA can only be explained by a reluctance of the cops to make their compadre public employees look bad. The evidence was right there, on video. The perp admitted what he had done. A blind man could have processed this thing expeditiously. Well, fair is fair, I guess, and Fullerton’s City Managers have never once said or done anything to correct the rampant corruption in the police department.

Matt Foulkes. The spin out left casualties…

Well, the hapless boob Domer is gone, kicked out after several years of gross incompetence and mismanagement; Foulkes fled to Buena Park – a step down – but presumably a step ahead of the axe. Both should be damn glad this issue hasn’t come up sooner because both were complicit in the forgery – and that in itself is a felony.

Redistricting A’ Comin’

Early on the morning of August 18th our City Council voted to appoint an advisory committee to consider drawing a new district map for Fullerton council seats. The Council decided to keep final approval for themselves.

You may recall that the City voters adopted districts in 2016 as part of the legal settlement with minority groups. That map was cooked up behind the scenes by Jennifer Fitzgerald with the assistance of downtown bar owners whose aim appeared to be splitting up downtown into 5 parts, three of which were each connected to their main body by tenuous electoral tissue. Naturally, the one and only map went along on the ballot with the question of having districts at all. Amazingly, all the councilmembers, including Bruce Whitaker went along with the sham, gerrymandered map, whose ostensible author, Jeremy Popoff, was Fullerton’s worst scofflaw bar owner.

The process of redistricting is almost always a charade with just enough public participation to look sort of legit. This time will be no different. It’s bound to consume staff time and require the services of a friendly consultant and a subscription to web-based demographic software.

It’s hardly necessary. Fullerton naturally divides into clear-cut areas of “communities of interest” both geographically and ethnically. So here’s my suggestion for a new map. I offer it humbly to the Friends, and the deciders, free of charge.

Consolidation, compaction, clarity. Northwest, North Central, East, South Central and Southwest. Gee, that was easy.

So What Happened At Foxborough Place?

Zahra-Busted
Why is this man smiling?

While scanning the City of Fullerton public records requests the other day, I came across this interesting tidbit, requester, not yet known:

We already know that was the day our Councilman Ahmad Zahra was arrested, somewhere, somehow, for something. All the records for that case are locked up tighter than… well, real tight.

And the fact that this particular request is related to our bad boy’s bad day is reflected in the City’s perfunctory response:

2671 Foxborough Place. Why is this address of significance to the events of that day? Is this house the home of any of the principals in the Zahra battery and vandalism case? I don’t know for sure, but somebody thinks it’s relevant, and of course it’s all a big secret as far as our city government is concerned.

C’mon Zahra. Time to Come Clean

Zahra-Busted
Why is this man smiling?

The Strange Case of Ahmad Zahra’s Disappearing Case is starting to come into focus. Zahra, the arrogant and pontificating council representative from District 5 says he has been exonerated by the justice system for charges of battery and vandalism levelled by DA Todd Spizter. But another, well-placed source claims there was no exoneration; that Zahra pled guilty, did some sort of community service and that the Court was petitioned to seal the case and wipe the slate clean.

If you listened to Zahra’s victimized account of events at the City Council meeting a couple weeks ago you would have heard his side of the original event. He claimed that the people involved – his ex-husband and a female – showed up where he was living with mom; that they were behaving in such as way as to frightened his dear mother; that she then called him: that when he arrived the cops (called by who knows who) were already there; that he knew nothing of the woman at the scene, etc.

Well this tale could be true. And it could also be a web of lies meant to make the Zahras, mere et fils, look like the victims. Since the case is sealed up like a pharaoh’s tomb, we are forced to consider the alternative scenarios with their likely stark difference in facts.

Fortunately there is one person who can clear this matter up in a heartbeat. And that’s Zahra himself. Whatever happened, he can produce correspondence from justice officialdom informing him that the case is being dropped because…whatever. Personally I think that is highly unlikely to happen since it must have been Zahra himself who petitioned the court to wrap up the case like a mummy, indicating that he was more interested in hiding the facts than in advertising his innocence.

If Mr. Zahra thinks he can ride this out, he is mistaken. His demeanor on the council has not made him any friends and pretty soon this issue is bound to get traction despite local media indifference to such things.