Elizabeth Hansberg and The SCAG Cartel – Part 4 – Why It Matters

You may ignore SCAG, but the lobbyists don’t…

Many people tend to dismiss the visionary dreams of large, regional government consortiums as either too impractical, too complicated or too abstruse to either worry about or even pay much attention to. Those people are wrong.

As we have seen, these agencies have long tentacles and provide funding, or pass through funding, to promote the Big Plans they have for us. And that money goes to pay people we wouldn’t give a dime. Worse, their housing needs projections are so wildly unrealistic that if implemented would destroy the suburban fabric of towns across Southern California.

Fullerton’s Future?

Which brings us back to Elizabeth Hansberg, whose brainchild, People For Housing, sends folks around to local planning commissions and councils to promote high-density housing projects that promise  no concomitant benefits to the communities in which they are crammed. And as we have seen Hansberg’s “non-profit” has received somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000 from SCAG to promote its agenda of a high density housing jamboree – based on a claim that says we need another 13,000 housing units in Fullerton.

The problem is that Hansberg is on our Planning Commission. The Chair, in fact. The bias, if not outright conflict of interest toward high density housing is cemented by her pecuniary reliance on SCAG. And thus planning in Fullerton is compromised. Think I’m exaggerating? Think again.

Hansberg was selected by our staff to be part of a collection of high-density housing enthusiasts who amusingly called themselves “Project Champions” and have participated in an idiot document called the Fullerton Housing Game Plan. And within this document is concrete evidence of what these people want to do in Fullerton. It’s called the Rail District.

Now this idea is not new. Apparently our crack staff have stolen both the boundaries and even the name from local business guy Tony Bushala who’s been trying to promote a sustainable, mixed use plan for his vision of the Fullerton Rail District. But no. The SCAG-Hansberg plan is all about high-density housing, not livability or sustainability.

Half a mile of high-density housing courtesy of SCAG

And here’s the proof: a plan drawing from this hitherto secret draft Specific Plan, already developed without even being shared with property owners in the area or even members of the City Council. And guess what? The Specific Plan is being paid for by SCAG. And SCAG is also paying to develop a plan to change the Poison Park within the site to an aquaponic farm, ditching the promised park and tying up valuable land in the process. And finally, SCAG grant money is also being eyed by the City bureaucrats to plan a half mile trail along the abandoned Union Pacific right-of-way, an idea so stupid that not even Ken Domer’s predecessors tried it.

It’s very clear that the giant thumbprint of SCAG is placed squarely on these hairbrained and even dangerous ideas. And with the enthusiastic support of their local auxiliaries like Elizabeth Hansberg, they are well on the way to entangling Fullerton in “plans” that will finish off our crumbling infrastructure and add 100,000 new traffic trips to our streets everyday.

 

Elizabeth Hansberg, Part 3 – The SCAG Connection

Fullerton’s Future?

So far, Dear Friends, I have first introduced you to the Chair of Fullerton’s Planning Commission, Elizabeth Hansberg. And then I noted the alignment the interests of her “non-profit” – People for Housing – with the interests of the utterly opaque government cartel known as SCAG – the Southern California Association of Governments.

Read. Weep.

We have seen that SCAG’s ridiculous housing quotas as applied to Fullerton, amount to over 13,000 new units, a number cooked up in their latest Regional Housing  Needs Assessment, or RHNA.

“Well, okay, Joe,” you may be saying. “Just a coincidence.”

Not quite. While some justifiably cynical folks have wondered whether Hansberg is shaking down developers by promising fake grassroots support for over-built housing projects, one thing is clear: she gets money from SCAG to help them pursue their grotesque housing schemes that promise to destroy cities and towns through Southern California.

But they did such a nice job at the Platinum Triangle!

Here’s a SCAG press release announcing grants of $50,000 to $100,000 to various groups who will help them promote their utopian view of a massive apartment block on every corner. And here’s the part that mentions the grant award to Hansberg’s creation:

“People for Housing Orange County. Scope: Empower grassroots activists to advocate for fair and feasible Housing Elements in the five OC cities with the highest potential for economic integration (Brea, Buena Park, Fullerton, La Habra and Placentia).”

Don’t be fooled by the high-minded rhetoric. We’ve already seen that “grassroots” activity has nothing to do with this operation. It’s really all about drumming up public speakers to go to planning commissions and city councils – including Fullerton’s – to try to hustle up approvals. And the concepts of fairness and feasibility have very little to do with the grim reality: in SCAGs “expert” opinion Fullerton needs another 30 or 40 thousand people crammed into massive apartment blocks, by-right apartment units in R-1 zoned neighborhoods, and any other upzoning that suits their end.

I think the idea that Elizabeth Hansberg may actually be lobbied at a Commission hearing by public speakers she is using public resources to gin up in the first place would be pretty damn funny if it weren’t so appalling. Her appointment to the Planning Commission was a mistake to begin with. And now we see how high the stakes for Fullerton’s future really are.

Elizabeth Hansberg, Part 2: The Housing Mafia

Across the street from us! No freakin’ Way, Man

Hello Friends.

You are excused for not knowing a goddamn thing about SCAG – the Southern California Association of Governments. There’s a good reason for this. SCAG operates as a completely opaque government entity; it is run by public employees, for public employees with no accountability to anybody. Its reason for existence is to promote whatever the latest liberal idea de jour happens to be.

And right now, the idea de jour is housing units. Lots and lots of housing units. In fact, in SCAG’s humble opinion…er…a, I mean expert opinion, Fullerton needs 13,000 new housing units, a notion, if executed would complete the destruction of our already overburdened infrastructure and increase our current population by 33%.

The “official” leadership of SCAG is a consortium of local elected folks you wouldn’t trust to mow your lawn. The bald fact than nobody is actually elected to be on SCAG by voters is telling. The whole thing is run by public employees acting as policy makers; the puppets on the SCAG board and the general assembly are just small-time political wannabes trying to look important. Then there are the lobbyists who view the voting members in the way a hyena looks at a wildebeest  carcass.

“Well, okay, Joe,” I can hear you saying. “So what?”

But they did such a nice job at the Platinum Triangle!

Here’s what: SCAG creates what is known as Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) concocted by who knows who, and that assumes the temerity to tell cities how they are deficient in their provision of housing for po’ folks.

“Well, okay, Joe,” I can hear you saying. “So what?”

Here’s what: the State of California Housing and Development Department, another bureaucratic godzilla, is becoming militant in making cities comply with some sort of plan to accommodate these idiot quotas – or else.

Fullerton’s Future?

And although the circle hasn’t yet closed, the arc is extending: there are special-interest groups, allied with developers who are mining the opportunity to exploit the bureaucratic trend for fun and profit. The consequence that matter to you and me don’t concern them in the least.

Getting the picture? If not, you soon will.

 

 

Meet Elizabeth Hansberg

Fullerton’s Future?

Friends, you may be excused for not knowing who Elizabeth Hansberg is. Very few people know, or care who is on their Planning Commission. But it matters.

Elizabeth Hansberg is our current Planning Commission Chairperson, appointed by the egregious Ahmad Zahra. “So what?” I can hear you saying. Well, contemplate this: she says she is an urban planner, and boy, does she have an urban plan for Fullerton: 13,000 new housing units is the plan, a concept that would increase our population by as much as 33%, upward of 200,000.

“What’s this?” you ask. Here’s the deal. Ms. Hansberg is a “housing advocate” which means jamming as many apartment blocks as is possible into Fullerton. The non-profit she started – People for Housing, now affiliated with something called YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) lobbies government agencies to build housing units. And lots of them. The website brags about lobbying the Fullerton City Council with images of yet another Planning Commissioner in tow – some political opportunist weenie called Jose Trinidad Castaneda,

Their mission is to pursue the current philosophy current in Sacramento to build hundreds of thousands of new units no matter the impact on the current property owners, the infrastructure or the environment. Slow Growth and sustainability advocates are her nemesis.

Naturally this has raised accusation that her movement is nothing but a pawn of the big development interests who are desperate to sink their shafts into the mine of cross-zoning in-fill housing monstrosities. Her cohorts deny this charge, but it still rings true. Why? Because she actually solicits opportunities from developers to engage in political advocacy on their behalf. It’s right there on the website. It gives every indication of being little more than a self-congratulatory shake-down effort.

So who does fund People for Housing, and what are the implications of having this person on our Planning Commission? 

Stay tuned.

Domer Quits As Fullerton City Manager

Domer-Decorations
Hitching to Barstow…

Late yesterday afternoon the City of Fullerton announced that City Manager Ken Domer is quitting. Observers have noted a growing dissatisfaction by a majority of the council with Domer’s lack of management ability.

The City press release quotes Domer, thus: “I really can’t stay any longer. It used to be so easy to do the things I do, in the way I do them. Now I have to try to answer embarrassing questions all the time. It’s not supposed to work like that.”

Most recently Domer tried to get the council to go along with privatizing the business registration function – a move that would actually cost the City money, and, by relocating an existing employee, maintain the current employee headcount. This item was rejected by the City Council in a 3-2 vote, now a familiar trend.

In the press release, Domer continues: “I will always value my four years in Fullerton. Working with Jennifer Fitzgerald and Jan Flory was so rewarding for me. And I mean that literally. And of course Jesus Quirk Silva and Ahmad Zahra always had my back, and I had theirs.”

In his brief tenure as City Manager Domer will be remembered for unbalanced budgets, a failed sales tax scam, crumbling infrastructure, lack of code enforcement, bending over backward for downtown bar scofflaws, ridiculous vanity construction projects and many other accomplishments. But he may be best remembered for the City’s reckless lawsuit against this very blog, and the incredibly corrupt decision to approve Joe Florentine’s forgery of an official city planning document.

When reached for comment, former councilperson Jennifer Fixgerald noted, “Ken Domer is a real treasure; a pleasure to work with; worth his weight in gold.”

Fitzgerald Quitting Fullerton?

Grab it and consume it as fast as you can…

Hmm. Former Fullerton Councilcreature for Hire, Jennifer Fitzgerald, may be getting out of Dodge. Word out and about is that Jennifer Fitzgerald wants to move. Out of Fullerton? I don’t know.

I’m sure not complaining about it, I’m hardly even wondering why.

See ya.

During Jen’s 8-year career driving Fullerton to the precipice of insolvency and immanent infrastructure collapse, she made it pretty clear that she was in it for whatever she could get out of it for herself, her campaign supporters and her boss, lobbyist Curt Pringle. Her last, desperate flail at influence peddling occurred in last fall’s election when her puppet candidate, Andrew Cho, dredged from the obscure depths of anonymity, was defeated by Fred Jung,

Zahra-Busted
Why is this man smiling?

Now there are only two candidates willing to be “influenced” Fitzgerald: Jesus Quirk Silva and Ahmad Zahra. And the latter may soon have his legal troubles advertised for his constituents to peruse.

I’ll drink to that!

So maybe Fitzy figures it’s time to abandon the smoking wreckage she masterminded courtesy of two utterly incompetent but willing co-conspirators – Joe Felz and Ken Domer.

Maybe she figures her work here is done.

Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 5

But wait, there's more!
But wait, there’s more!

When people talk about “government circles” you can believe they mean it: some things just keep circling around and around yet, like when you have a clogged sewer liner, the circling flotsam never goes down the drain.

New in town, but he caught on quickly…

And so it is with the City of Fullerton’s hapless Community Development Department that can’t seem to adopt a plan and stick to it; that can’t be honest and straight forward; that refuses to enforce its own code; and as we shall see in this final installment, steadfastly refuses to notify the public of what it’s up to.

When I left off, I noted the odd three-month hiatus of the latest noise go-round that was once again being disguised within broader land use code update  In February 2019, the Planning Department was again convened to review the matter, after two opponents of amplified outdoor music had been conveniently removed from the Commission. By this time the new and soon to be former  Planning Director, Ted White, was directing the charge to push for the noise free-for-all, likening the impending racket to the noise blast known as Broadway Avenue in Nashville – but in a good way.

In Nashnille hearing yourself think is highly overrated, I guess…

But this time there was another problem. The hearing hadn’t been properly noticed to the public as should have been the case, particularly since the noise issue  has such an impact on the citizenry.  George and Tony Bushala lawyered up and informed the City that it had failed to notify the public about what it was doing. Mr. White declared that the downtown noise issue would be removed from the discussion that night. But it wasn’t – not entirely – as other code sections that pertained to noise slipped through.

A compliant and complaisant Council adopted the zone code changes in April, 2019.

Matt Foulkes. The downward spiral is complete.

But the story was not over, because, well, Fullerton. The bar owners still needed to be pacified and the bar still needed to be lowered. By November 2020 Ted White was gone only to be replaced by an in-house lackey named Matt Foulkes who had been part of the ongoing mess since 2015, and knew exactly which side of his toast had the butter on it.

Accountability? It was never on the agenda.

So the downtown noise mess was brought back to the council again, where lame-duck members Jennifer Fitzgerald and her puppet, Jan Flory were guaranteed yes votes. But alas, once again the City failed to properly notice the public, and this time there was no way to hide the incompetence in a broader mish-mash of code changes. So the hearing was continued until…well, who knows when? Apparently Jeremy Popoff has fled the scene to Nashville to enjoy whatever douchebaggery he can find there, and Covid has silenced DTF – for now.

Stop the noise, consarn it!

But one thing is certain. The City’s downtown creation, AKA Dick Jones “monster” will continue to suck millions in resources out of the General Fund even as the bureaucrats continue to admire the mess they did nothing to stop and continue to characterize a liability as an asset. And because of that complete disconnect with reality, they will continue to push for a noise-a-palooza – no matter how long it takes.

Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 4

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if government bureaucracies do the things they do because of incompetence, venality, or favoritism. In the never-ending story of Fullerton’s noise regulation all three seem to be uniquely intertwined.

What is inescapable is that the City of Fullerton has striven mightily to separate the issue of nuisance noise emanating from downtown outdoor areas from both enforcement and illegality.

SlidebarMotto
A few thou here and there worked wonders…

In 2011 the ridiculous Transportation Center Specific Plan finally made it legal to propagate amplified outdoor music, thus making Jeremey Popoff’s Slidebar appear honest, although he still didn’t have a legal Conditional Use Permit. But the new regulations for noise had no more effect than Popoff’s missing CUP because the City – cops and code enforcement – refused to enforce the regulations.

A standup guy walking tall.
.

What to do? Hmm. What about throwing the issue into a miasma of bureaucratic paper shuffling so that nobody would notice what you were doing, and downtown scofflaws could actually be absolved, de jure as well as de facto?

In August, 2014 the City tried this pitch with the idea that the Noise ordinance would be updated along with great swaths of the existing land use law to make thing, you know, easier to figure out. But downtown noise played a prominent part in the discussion, if not really in the staff report. The council approved noise studies as a mechanism, a cynic might say, to avoid cracking down on Popoff, Jack Franklin’s Roscoe’s, and their ilk, because that is exactly what happened.

I’m not going to do my job and you can’t make me…

2015 rolled around and the Community Development “professionals,” led by newly minted Director Karen Haluza, were again yakking it up about revising the Code. Well, these things take time, you know, and in the late summer of 2016 the City Council finally got around to passing Ordinance 3232, a revised Code, still, with intent of instilling commonsense and clarity. The definition of amplified music was scratched out pending future action.

But whatever the motivation, the ever-shifting sands of sound gave the bureaucrats, aided and abetted by the perpetual dishonesty of City Attorney Dick Jones, the pretext they needed to bat away complaints about the illegal noise – because the issues was under study and consideration!

New in town, but he caught on quickly…

The vicious circle took yet another revolution in June of 2018 when the Council was persuaded by yet another new planning director, Ted White, to pass a Resolution of Intent to once again revise the land use codes in the interests of commonsense and clarity. Of course the Noise Ordinance and downtown noise was actually a key driver in this conversation, too. Mr. White took it upon himself to introduce a new downtown noise map where any outdoor sound would be permitted; but, the standards – 70 decibels outside and 65 decibels inside – were not to be applied to the source, but to the sensitive receptor, and the burden of proof was clearly laid at the feet of the victim, not the perpetrator of the nuisance. The bureaucracy seemed oblivious to the Armageddon of Noise they were trying to create or the sensibilities of residents adjacent to the riot zone.

The Planning Commission was finally scheduled to review the latest iteration of musical chairs in November, 2018; but the discussion was mysteriously continued for three months until February, 2019 by which time two opponents of amplified music, Nick Dunlap and Ryan Cantor had been removed from the Commission. A coincidence? Who knows? Stay tuned…

 

 

We’re All In This Together, Right?

Dunlap-Jung
Can these two help bring some accountability to Fullerton?

Or so we are led to believe. But our public employees come first, of course.

At last night’s council meeting the discussion rolled around to what to do with $34,000.000 that will be coming Fullerton’s way courtesy of the federal governments latest orgy of largesse. Fred Jung opened the discussion with an emphasis that the City’s massive infrastructure debt be addressed. That sentiment was echoed by Councilman Dunlap and Mayor Whitaker.

Then the predictable began.

Zahra OC Register Battery

Ahmad Zahra cautioned that there might be restrictions on the money of which we are unaware and not to “count our eggs.” Of course this is code for: protect our employees.

The train of thought was weak but it sure was short…

At the 5 hour and 20 minute mark, Jesus Silva raised the topic of making our employees whole for their wonderful pay reduction sacrifices during the pandemic; City Manager Domer, reminded the council that the various bargaining units had taken pay cuts with the understanding that they would be reimbursed when new revenue was discovered (Measure S passage, no doubt, or failing that more fed bailout).

https://fullerton.granicus.com/player/clip/1265?view_id=2&redirect=true

And that’s where the discussion wandered off into bureaucratic miasma with nothing resolved and no policy established. Once again the proverbial can was kicked down the road for another day.

Yet one thing is crystal clear. A public that has suffered itself tremendously over the past year, financially, psychologically, and personally is very likely to be on the hook to recompense public employees whose incomes, jobs, health insurance, and overall well-being was guaranteed (by us) throughout.

And that’s just the way it is.

 

 

Fix The Streets Damn It!

 

20. AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT UPDATE
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act which
programs over $1.9 trillion in relief funding related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Councilmember Jung requested, with concurrence from Mayor Whitaker, to hold an initial
discussion of local funding opportunities.
Recommendation:
Provide direction as appropriate

On tomorrow night’s council agenda we see that Item #20 is a discussion about what to do with the Democrat’s Federal relief dough, estimated to be in the neighborhood of $35,000,000. That’s a nice neighborhood, especially if you’re a stumblebum city manager like Ken Domer who is hanging on to quarter mil per year job by the skin of his teeth.

Domer-Decorations
Hitching to Blythe…

This pile o’ cash is undoubtedly already attracted the attention of the Hero unions who will be clamoring for equity, parity, and any other ity they can think up. And of course Domer has been complaining about his poor, overworked skeleton staff crew, too, so there’s that.

Measure S Covid Lie

I know that the bureaucrats will be applying pressure to use the money for payroll and pensions. How do we know this? Because that’s what they were pushing hard with the late and not lamented Measure S tax. We can be sure that staff will be doing the usual song and dance about what the Biden Bucks can and cannot be spent on.

Well, here’s what I say: $35,000,000 will pay for a whole lot of paving and a whole lot of sidewalk.

Dunlap-Jung
Can these two help bring some accountability to Fullerton?

It’s painfully obvious that Councilpersons Zahra and Silva will do whatever they’re told by the City Manager. Fortunately, Councilmen Dunlap and Jung know who they work for. And it isn’t the public employee unions. That leaves Mayor Bruce Whitaker who actually helped Jung get this item on the agenda for public discussion.