The Wishing Well, Once A Mayor’s Crib; Now A Bottomless Money Hole

The Wishing Well Apartments. Someone's wish just came true.

For those interested in obscure Fullerton history, Louis Valasquez lived in the Wishing Well apartments at 466 West Valencia Dr. while serving as the Mayor of Fullerton in 1979.

Those more curious about modern-day Redevelopment Agency boondoggles, may be interested to learn that this past week the Fullerton City Council voted to sell the Agency owned Wishing Well Apartments to an out of town “developer” for $100.

The Fullerton Redevelopment Agency purchased the ol’ Wishing Well for $1,993,433 and paid an additional $60,930 to kick out (relocate) all the tenants that resided in the 16 unit building. On top of that the Agency is going to give the out-of-towners an additional $184,347 to “rehab” the apartments, provided the developer rents the apartments to low income tenants. Here in Orange County “low income” is 50% of the median income – which for a family of 3 is $70,890. This means that people that make around $35,445 will be living in the Brand Spanking New Wishing Well. I’ll bet ya the previous tenants made less than $35,445 per year. So in reality the city kicked out the poor folks in order to replace them with richer poor folks.

Now that’s not very good is it?

And if the units were so dilapidated, why didn’t City Code Enforcement simply cite the landlord and require the units to be standard units?

I think I’ll do a follow-up post and focus on code enforcement failures under Don Bankhead’s and Dick Jones’s years of “leadership.”

Fullerton Collaborative’s Bogus Contract Is Up For Renewal TONIGHT

So what ever happened to the Fullerton Collaborative? You remember… Pam Keller’s non-profit with the curiously convoluted contract with the Fullerton School District that provides payment to herself , all of those nice government benefits but none of that pesky accountability.

Keller is attempting to renew her contract with the school district at the board meeting tomorrow night. The contract allows her to work as a private organization with little oversight while still collecting all the pension and benefits of a school teacher.

Anyone who takes issue with the school district acting as a financial conduit for the shenanigans of a well-connected liberal activist should show up and be heard. If you’d like to review the myriad of conflicts and liabilities that this arrangement provides, start with the Pam Keller Recap and continue to the Fullerton Collaborative archives.

The meeting is Tuesday, July 20th at 5:30PM at the district board room. The Collaborative giveaway is listed as item 2c on the agenda.  Plenty of our Friends will be there!

Who Should Pay To Clean Up The Mess in Downtown Fullerton?

Welcome to Downtown Fullerton

Surely not the businesses that don’t sell booze.

Last year a few downtown Fullerton property and business owners lobbied the City Council to impose an tax assessment on downtown Fullerton. The purpose of this “Business Improvement District” was to raise money to clean up the mess introduced into Downtown by the numerous booze joints and illegal dance clubs.

The first step was predictable: hire yourself a “consultant” who will tell you what you want to hear. But the price tag was too steep and the promoters couldn’t get a clear majority of the Council to go along.

But apparently now Councilwoman Sharon Quirk-Silva has changed her mind about hiring a consultant to meet and greet and spread the BID propaganda.

The direction here is all too clear: build up some momentum toward the idea and then rely on the self-interested parties to vote their interest and hope that the other property owners don’t catch on.

Well I think this stinks. Why should all the downtown property owners pay to fix the problems caused by the bar owners and their out-of-control customers, not to mention a City policy that has enabled all these problems? And let’s not forget – former police chief and council candidate Patrick McKinley who liked to look the other way.

And why should the taxpayers keep footing the bill?

When is An Historic Resource Not An Historic Resource?

As quickly as you can, Grasshopper, snatch the park from its owners...

When it’s Fullerton’s Hillcrest Park, of course. Then it’s a resource of a different kind: an opportunity for City Staff to play upon the sentimentality of Fullerton’s park and history lovers to destroy the very resource that is ostensibly being saved.

They did it 15 years ago and they are doing it again.

I went to Saturday’s latest public meeting to “save the park” and witnessed something quite remarkable. Just like last time the City staff has employed a consultant to remake the park in its own desired form, replete with new facilities it can market or operate, while ignoring the true needs of the old girl.

But this time the ludicrousness of the whole operation became apparent immediately. A representative of the landscape architect hired to foist the exploitative plan informed us all what was wrong with Hillcrest Park. It has bad chi. And all these years we just thought it was neglect by the parks and police departments. Chi. Hmm.

So what’s the solution to clean up the chi and get things all aligned, nice and proper?

A restaurant, for one thing, down by the duck pond; and a new park entrance; new retaining walls along the Brea Creek and an abandonment of the interior roadways might just get that troublesome chi back in balance, we were informed.

Ye Gods! Chi. What’s next, park feng shui?

Use the Force, Luke...

I don’t know how much we’re paying these yahoos to further destroy our park, but I’ll bet it’s a lot. And I’ll also bet that Redevelopment money is picking up at least part of the tab. And ultimately the only way to pay to comprehensively destroy this historic resouce is to use big piles of Redevelopment money to do it. Redevelopment destroying historic resources. That’s not a new theme.

Hillcrest Park is on the National Register of Historic places but nobody seems to treat it like it were. Only last year the City embarked on massive alterations to the north slope of the park without review by the Landmarks Commission.

Well, good luck Hillcrest. And in the meantime may the chi be with you.

Downtown Fullerton Redevelopment Failure

In 1974 the various Redevelopment project areas were created in Fullerton, including the area that includes the downtown.

This was at the very tail end of the urban renewal era of social engineering that gutted old neighborhoods and districts across the land only to see the creation of bureaucrat-planned ghost towns and vast housing projects that nobody wanted to live in.

Although the downtown area was pretty much left to its own devices in the 70s, the 80s saw a new and noxious interest in re-inventing the area according to the whims of the Redevelopment manager and whatever cookie-cutter standardization idiocy was emanating from central planning workshops. Anybody remember the embarrassing concrete trestles?

True, the old businesses were leaving, put out of business by a new Mall culture. But what was the cure? Specialty retail, standardized street furniture, stamped concrete paving, design guidelines, and a plethora of silliness whose only aim seemed to be to create a roofless mall (an obviously pointless goal) – and provide employment for the Redevelopment manager. Hideous trees were planted that destroyed the sidewalks and on-street parking was removed, spelling final doom for what was left of the downtown businesses, but it was all part of the Master Plan, see? And new Master Plans kept being spit out every five years or so.

And while the City professed an interest in historic preservation, and even took credit for it, historic buildings kept disappearing – either completely or under a wall of brick veneer.

Things weren’t working. A ban on churches and pawn shops and junk yards couldn’t alter the fact that the low rents were pulling in businesses that weren’t “specialty retail.” They were mom and pop second hand stores masquerading as “antique” this and “vintage” that.

Ah! Much had been accomplished, but more work needed to be done. Job security for life!

The FFFF pages are strewn with the ugly history of the late eighties and the nineties when an unaccountable city staff engaged in boondoggle after boondoggle with a complaisant council going along every step of the way, and always taking credit for “revitalizing” downtown Fullerton.

Much had been accomplished, but clearly more work needed to be done.

Huge apartment blocks were approved, giving away millions in profits to favored developers through entitlements and grants. City streets were handed out like Monopoly deeds. The hope was that a captive residential audience would have to patronize downtown business. Synergy was the watchword of the day!

Much had been accomplished, but clearly more work needed to be done.

A new phenomenon was beginning to emerge in the late 90s. The subsidized restaurant. And a  new booze culture was coalescing. Was it policy or accident? Who can say now. But what is inescapable is that for more than a decade the City’s actions and lack of actions had demonstrable effects. And the effects weren’t salutory. The restaurants morphed into bars and the bars morphed into bootleg night clubs and dance halls. The latter weren’t shut down; they were permitted. And then they were subsidized by the taxpayers with free fire water lines.

Every night the downtown area was filling up with drunken out of towners; fights, rapes, a murder. The City Manager wrung his hands. The downtown area was costing over a million dollars a year more to manage than it was bringing in in revenue.

Much had been accomplished, but clearly more work needed to be done.

In the 2000s the merry chase for revitalization continued apace with lustful Redevelopment eyes alighting on a vast Fox Theater project, cynically calculated to leverage popular interest in the Fox Theater. Aha! The anchor project that would make all the other pieces fall into place: success was at hand! Sure, we could move the McDonald’s a couple hundred feet. Six million? No problem! Environmental impacts? No big deal.

Then there is the Amerige Court monster. Aha! The anchor project that would make all the other pieces fall into place: success was at hand! Environmental impacts? No big deal.

And now Redevelopment in downtown Fullerton is 36 years old. Let’s put this in perspective: Fullerton was founded in 1886. And that means for 30% of its life span downtown Fullerton has had Redevelopment. And in 2010 the very sort of business that redevelopment bureaucrats find abhorrent starts up in the very heart of Redevelopment territory. See the irony yet? I do. It’s not about sex, it’s about failure. Oh, well.

Much has been accomplished, but clearly more work needs to be done.

Quirk-Silva Calls For The Voters To Decide Who Replaces Nelson

Q-S says no to an appointment.

I recently spoke with Councilwoman Sharon Quirk and she is adamant about letting the voters to decide who replaces Shawn Nelson – not the Council.

I couldn’t agree more. I’m against any backroom deal that would simply appoint a compliant candidate who met the jaw-droppingly low standards that have been set for “anointed” candidates in Fullerton’s past.

There is also the possibility that the discussion of appointing a replacement is tied into the need to get three votes on some issue or other before November. Of course we could speculate on that all day.

‘Ol Doc Jones Working Hard Behind The Scene

A hard rain's gonna fall...

Just when we thought Doc Hee Haw was on the verge of institutionalization, we get word that the good ‘ol boy is working his fellow councilmembers to appoint a replacement for Shawn Nelson. He’ll need two other votes so either Sharon Quirk or Pam keller would have to go along with the inevtable Ed Royce/Dick Ackerman hand-picked idiot.

Not too likely. Still…

Still, my suggestion is get in touch with both these two worthy ladies and insist that no backroom deals be cut, and that the replacement be made by the voters in the November General Election.

This was what was done in 2002 when Norby left. Let’s do ‘er again.

This is not the old West. This is the new West.

And now for the fun part. Who do you suppose Jonsey might be pitching to replace Nelson? Please share your guesses in the space provided below.

The New 2010 Council Dynamic

Now that Shawn Nelson is moving up to the Supervisor’s office, his imminent departure creates an even more unpredictable Fullerton City Council campaign landscape.

Pam Keller has already announced that she’s out. With Nelson gone that means there will be two openings, plus the interminable candidacy of the antediluvian Don Bankhead.

It’s hard to believe that the four remaining councilmembers could decide on a replacement for Nelson, so the prospect of a rump council (okay that’s pretty funny if you think about it) and a November election to fill the remainder of Nelson’s term seems inevitable.

Then, of course, there’s the sad deterioration of Doc Jones, whose antics and idiocies continue to mount. Re-elected in 2008, there has been speculation that he would hold on for two years and then quit when a suitable Ackerman/Royce Chamber of Commerce zombie could be coughed up.

Could there be yet another seat up for grabs, come November?

It’s already getting late in the year so the interested and the ambitious must surely be contemplating their political futures today.

Good luck to them, with a caveat. The ones whose ambitions outweigh their brains will be scrutinized closely. By us.

A Promise Was Made. Will It Be Kept?


More than a year (and a half) ago a majority of the Fullerton City Council agreed to put the idea of a three term limit to a plebiscite. Councilmembers Sharon Quirk, Pam Keller and Shawn Nelson were for it; Dick Jones and Don Bankhead were against it.

Dick and I aren't going anywhere...

At the time we ran this post, which we updated in last October. Well, Friends, with the impending June primary election the time has come to remind Quirk, Keller, and Nelson of their promise. It’s not that we don’t trust them, but folks just get so gosh darn busy and their calendars fill up.

But seriously: now that a year has passed and the cold reality of actually having to do something approaches, will there be political remorse?

We’ll soon find out.