In December, as the Friends will remember, the City of Fullerton sold a public parking lot to a so-called developer for $1,400,000. The “developer” had the task of building a boutique hotel and an apartment block. FFFF has already documented the ridiculous density the City has bestowed upon the project. So let’s revisit the topic of land value, a calculation based on the number of residential units a developer can cram onto a parcel of land.
In this case we know precisely how many units are proposed because the development agreement tells us. There are going to be 141 apartment units and 118 hotel rooms – rooms that will undoubtedly be converted to low income housing when the hotel concept fails. Dividing 259 units by $1.4 million gives us $5400 per “door” as they say in the biz.
Does that number seem low? I didn’t really know, so I contacted some pros at Land Advisors who informed me that a more typical number is in the range of $60,000 to $65,000 per unit in these parts, which produces a land value of about $15.5 million and above.
So the “economic development” geniuses in City Hall got the City Council to agree to a massive reduction in value for the sale of the land, a reduction that could be in the neighborhood of $14,000,000.
Now we all know that government and its agents shield themselves (or try very hard to) from accountability for this type of incredible giveaway. It’s not a crime to be stupid, and so there the issue of legal malfeasance can be fuzzy without proof of corruption. But here there is the issue of misfeasancethat in this case justifiesthe initiation of a recall of the elected representatives who voted for this evident gift of public funds.
And those three representatives are Ahmad Zahra, Shana Charles and Bruce Whitaker.
Now, undoubtedly, these three politicos would argue that they had great reasons for “subsidizing” this boondoggle, and that those excellent reasons are well-worth the $14,000,000 they happily pitched at the developer, an individual, we must remember, who brought this unsolicited proposal to the City. But the City, remember, never did its due diligence by opening up this concept (or any other) for a submission of qualifications by those who might have been interested. No. Not even after several years had gone by and the proposer had been granted several extensions of a Exclusive Negotiating Agreement and the proposal kept metastasizing.
Are a “boutique” hotel at the train tracks and yet another overbearing apartment block so important that they justify the $14,000,000 giveaway? Well, I would challenge Charles, Whitaker and Zahra to prove it to voters in their districts.
I was perusing old drafts of posts and came across one that needed to be published. The issue itself is bad enough – the virtual surrender of useful public land to build a “boutique” hotel. The fact that the “developer” had no experience and no track record was bad enough; but the idea that any hotel patron would want to spend the night next to the train tracks or in the vicinity of the downtown Fullerton week-end train wreck was laughable. What was even worse was the dumb rationale our council used to keep this metastasizing idiocy alive.
Over several years the dream of our former lobbyist councilperson-for-sale, Jennifer Fitzgerald – a boutique hotel – refused to die, even after Fitzgerald finally bolted from Fullerton. It’s last iteration in December ’22 was approved by our typically befuddled city council.
Which brings me to the point of this post. In her first meeting as the councilperson representing District 3, Shana Charles voted on this embarrassment. She spent that opportunity to display the critical thinking one would expect of a PhD, but demonstrated just the opposite. Listen:
It’s real nice that Ms. Charles felt obliged to share her “thought process” with her constituents. But whatever that process was, the result was comical. The the good doctor believed that such a boutique hotel will support “County functions” and “event and community centers” in DTF, but she didn’t elaborate on what those events and centers are. Why not? Because there aren’t any, unless you think of the Fullerton Community Center across the street from City Hall to be the sort of place out-of-towners will be so keen to visit that they’ll book a room at the Shana Charles Hotel.
FFFF has been reporting on the doings of our fine police department for years. Every now and then we’ll get a missive from a citizen complaining about selective and an random harassment by one of our finest, in this case by a fellow named Rolando, who relates his tale, below. Perhaps one of our esteemed councilmembers will care enough to look into the matter. Yeah, right.
To Whom it may concern:
My Name is Rolando. I was harassed and Threatened by officer who infracted me.
After the officer illegally pulled me over on commonwealth ave and impounded my Truck and trailer and Threatened me that I will never operate in Fullerton ever again, that he was going to see to it at commonwealth ave location. officer refused to write me a ticket simply because he did not have to since I own the vehicle.
After 2 hours i travel to the Fullerton police station to pay the release fee for the impound yard and as I had conclude my business and walked out of the building, come’s running out the door a cadet Named YOONE to recall me back to the front desk. Officer request!. I returned to meet the Very man himself whom impounded my vehicles trailer to further harassment and threatening because the cadet made a mistake of not notifying the officer and released my truck but not my trailer and cars. Keep in mind this officer was off his shift and out of uniform to pull me back in the front desk lobby and harass and threaten me. Is this normal ?? I don’t think so. It does not feel right to me. No I’m wondering what more is this officer willing to do ;he has a personal problem with me.
The officer is pursuing a figment of his imagination to hold hostage my property and bankrupt me financially by acquiring daily charges at the tow yard.
I asked to speak with the watch commander to no avail. I was asked by the staff to leave and not return until I bring back special requests that I am not required too. He is abusing his power as a law enforcement.
My only doing wrong was crossing his path.
I was over weight on my trailer while parked in the street.
This should of been a citation or in this case an impound, pay fee’s release property and go to court.
They are asking me to provide a MC permit. I don’t fall under that requirement because I am not a class A. The officer know that. I can’t get a appointment with the chief or anyone who is not bias.
I don’t know why officer’s take it personal for a person who is actually a functioning ,providing citizen that pay tax.
How can they request respect when they abuse the power we citizens appoint to them.
Do you have insight on how to recover in promptly or who to talk to ?
Another day, another little act of extortion on the part of Ahmad Zahra, the transactional incumbent in Fullerton’s District 5.
The latest comes to us from downtown business owner James Ko, who relates the tale of how, when he told Zahra to remove his name from Zahra’s his list of endorsers, the latter said he couldn’t because, ya know, the website could only be changed at great expense.
So according to Ko, Zahra demanded a $500 campaign donation to pay for the removal of Mr. Ko’s name!
Ko, acquiesced in this outrageous demand and paid the ridiculous extortion money, but has subsequently made a demand of his own, in writing: namely, that the ill-gotten loot be returned, post haste.
Will Zahra give it back? I’m betting no.
And of course this isn’t the first instance of a Zahra shakedown that FFFF has mentioned, and I wonder how many other unwilling contributions have been made to this one-man mob.
FFFF has received some information about a campaign sign vandal who was seen last night destroying “No Zahra” signs along Harbor Boulevard.
I don’t know who this individual is, but he spoke English and claimed to be a friend of Ahmad Zahra. The dark rings around the eyes suggest lack of sleep and behavior associated with alcohol or meth abuse. Either that or somebody with an affinity for raccoons. We’d like to know who this douchenozzle is, so please circulate this image and let’s see if we can identify Zahra’s “friend.”
Ahmad Zahra mas mentioned over and over again that he is a doctor, believing this exhalation will give him standing. After all getting into and and out of medical school, plus passing the necessary qualifying exercises takes dedication and effort and conveys a prestige unknown to us mere mortals. He has even claimed to have assisted his brain surgeon dad in lengthy open cranial endeavors. Of course his followers believe the tale.
But is Zahra really even a physician? Normally, nobody would question this assertion; but, since Zahra spends so much time lying about himself, the question needs to be posed.
Nobody seems to have seen his diploma or his license to practice medicine. Meantime, diligent efforts to find any mention of his name on the rolls of physicians in this country and the UK has drawn blanks.
If Zahra really is a physician in the USA, hell, or anywhere, I would sure welcome proof of it. But getting the truth out of Ahmed is like squeezing blood out of a stone.
Here at FFFF HQ we always leave the door open for Fullerton citizens to share their issues. This instance is a little different. We received (anonymously) a statement that purports to be by a 5th District resident. I don’t know who wrote it, or in what context it was written. I don’t need to know. It is a well-written, eloquent, and damning indictment of Ahmad Zahra’s weepy, sleezy, self-serving 4 year tenure on the Fullerton City Council.And it’s all true.
Here’s the statement as we received it:
“1. Mr. Zahra denied the voters of Fullerton the opportunity to elect a member to a half term on the Fullerton City Council. Although he at first vocally supported an election to fill the at-large seat vacated by Jesus Silva on the Fullerton City Council, Mr. Zahra ultimately voted to appoint someone to the two year remainder of this term despite dozens of public speakers from all backgrounds pleading for a special election. Mr. Zahra argued that a special election would be too expensive, but went on to support at least one other questionable expenditure far in excess of the estimated cost of such an election.
“2. Following the appointment of Jan Flory to the aforementioned two year seat on the city council, she joined council member Jennifer Fitzgerald and Mr. Zahra himself in appointing Mr. Zahra to a paid seat on the Board of the Orange County Water District, supplanting the city’s then current representative, whose term had not yet expired. The vote gave the appearance of an obvious quid pro quo, wherein Mr. Zahra supported appointing Ms. Flory to the council in exchange for her support in appointing him as Fullerton’s representative to the OCWD.
“3. Mr. Zahra consistently voted to support spending over a million dollars on legal fees to sue two writers from the Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog who downloaded private files from an unguarded and publicly available folder on the city’s website— a folder to which the city itself had directed the bloggers. The blog’s publication of of at least some of these files revealed incompetence and malfeasance on the part of the city’s administration and police department. In addition to being an enormous waste of public funds on a suit the city was unlikely to win, this lawsuit represented a serious attack on freedom of the press, on par with legal actions taken against the publication of the Pentagon Papers fifty years ago—that is, an attempt by government to suppress publication of materials embarrassing to it and to punish news outlets who would do so. Council member Zahra’s support of this lawsuit alone should be reason for any news organization to decline to endorse him for public office.
“4. Mr. Zahra participated in a council subcommittee consisting of himself and then Council member Jennifer Fitzgerald. This economic development subcommittee held meetings behind closed doors with no publicly available agendas, no publicized meetings times or places, and no subsequent public notes. The public were not invited to attend. No one knows what was discussed in these meetings.
“5. No notes were ever made available from the aforementioned subcommittee meetings, but Mr. Zahra subsequently supported, with great enthusiasm, the development of the former Kimberly Clark property into a massive warehouse distribution site for Goodman Logistics, a frequent host of Amazon delivery services. It is no exaggeration to state that Goodman subsequently stripped the site of every living tree, including a perimeter of large, mature pine trees and groves of fruit trees that included the last orange tree orchard in Fullerton.
“6. Mr. Zahra falsely claimed authorship of a story about the Orange County Water District submitted for publication and ultimately published by The Fullerton Observer. Subsequent discovery that the article was actually authored by OCWD staff caused public embarrassment to the Observer and revealed that Mr. Zahra was willing to uncritically and deceptively pass along an agency’s public relations material to The Fullerton Observer as his own writing, casting clear doubt about the independence of his representation of Fullerton on the Board of this agency as well as his trustworthiness as a public official.
“7. Mr. Zahra has refused to reveal the ultimate disposition of criminal charges brought against him while serving on the council. Although the charges were reported by the Observer to have been dismissed, court records were sealed, denying the public the right to know what actually happened in the case of a public official accused of assault and vandalism. Whether or not the charges were judged to be justified, Mr. Zahra should have revealed exactly how this case proceeded and how it was ultimately concluded to dispel any doubt in the minds of his constituents.
“8. Mr. Zahra appointed to the Planning Commission, arguably the most important and powerful committee or commission in the city, a representative for a pro-development organization Her role as director of this organization represented a clear conflict of interest between her profession and her public service. She ultimately resigned from the Commission part way through her term with no prior notice during one of its meetings, leaving before the meeting has been concluded the the evening. Such an appointment, in my opinion, calls into question Mr. Zahra’s judgement.
“Additionally, we should remember that the 5th District was created to accommodate representation by the area’s largely Latinx population—the only such district in the city. Endorsing the only non-Latino in this contest would not seem to advance this goal.”
FFFF has just received an interesting document from an anonymous, yet seemingly informed source.
Something happened after a council meeting last year that caused the Fullerton cops to take a police report and to inform the councilmembers, obliquely, what they were doing – as if the council already knew. So what was it? Our informant tells us that Ahmad Zahra, the perpetual victim, filed a complaint against Fred Jung for some sort of assault, or threat or something. That part isn’t clear.
The fact that this police report never went anywhere means that there was nothing behind it, and in fact that Zahra probably and deliberately filed a false report to begin with. That would be a crime, of course, if anybody is keeping track, and well within broadly described moral compass Zahra has drawn for himself.
FFFF could do a Public Records Act request to get the documents, but I have a sneaking suspicion they are long gone, rather like the records surrounding Zahra’s battery and vandalism case.
Narcissists lie. Their entire performative existence is all about self-aggrandizement and shoring up lack of real accomplishment by spinning constant yarns about their achievements and abilities. And so I present a clinical case: District 5 Councilman Ahmad Zahra.
The Fullerton Observer/Heathy Community Mafia Forum took place last week and Zahra found another occasion to keep spinning the same myriad lies that he has told so often he may actually have come to believe some of them.
Here are a few to chew on:
Lie #1: Zahra repeated his origin story that he’s lived in the District 5 for the last 21 years.
TRUTH: Zahra’s voter registration clearly shows he has only lived in the District for the last 16. The supposition being if you tell the lie often enough, even you begin to believe your own BS.
TRUTH: Zahra had the crutch of masking his Hispanic street cred in 2018 because he has his Hispanic partner who he opportunistically paraded in front of Hispanic District 5 residents. Without the benefit of his plus one to hide behind, he is now resorted to fabricating a deep understanding of complex issues. Parking issues? Ahmad created parking issues when he mysteriously voted to extend RV parking so nonoperational trailers and motorhomes highjacked streets in District 5.
Lie #2: “I share many experiences of our residents from parking issues, to rent, to housing affordability.”
TRUTH: Zahra is just a typical limousine liberal without the limousine. Your political life is tied to patronizing, top-down government. You are an bald-faced opportunist trying to scam people with your “caring” not you accomplishments of which there aren’t any.
Lie #3: “We have a shelter with good services right here in Fullerton.”
TRUTH: Zahra sold residents on the Navigation Center, which was funded and built for Fullerton homeless. That shelter has only 3 beds dedicated to homeless right now and none of them are from Fullerton. Zahra has done nothing to help Fullerton homeless or the homeless situation in Fullerton. There is a huge encampment of homeless under the 91 freeway at Euclid that has been there for weeks on in and Zahra did nothing to get it cleaned up because he cares so much about homeless.
Lie #4: “We created a safe parking program for residents who are sleeping in their cars.”
TRUTH: The program cost over $150,000 and only a handful of cars participated in the safe parking program because of the security restrictions around it. It was by all accounts an unmitigated disaster and a giant waste of taxpayer money. But a year and a half after it was mercifully ended by the remaining members of the Council, Zahra appears at this forum taking false credit for its imaginary success.
Lie #5: “Making sure our housing element has affordable housing.”
TRUTH: Does Zahra mean the housing element that is so late in development and approval that the City of Fullerton under your watch Ahmad is getting sued over it? Zahra is taking credit for aiding in Fullerton again wasting taxpayer dollars on defending or being a plaintiff in another dumb lawsuit.
Lie #6: “I’ve been working on traffic safety since the beginning.”
TRUTH: The beginning of what? The beginning of your tumultuous and ineffective Council career? The beginning of time? Since the birth of Christ? Considering more people have died crossing Orangethorpe and Lemon during his four year term, perhaps he means beginning after this forum.
Lie #7: “I installed a crossing guard.”
TRUTH: Hold on Skippy! The Fullerton School District pays for and authorizes school crossing guards. It has nothing to do with the City of Fullerton and even less to do with Zahra. But he’ll take false credit for it. The morons who believe Zahra’s lies will believe anything nonsense he says. But others, smarter, will show their contempt for his paltry efforts at the polls.
Lie #8: “We need to take pride in our parks and reclaim our parks.”
TRUTH: Is that right? Pride in Union Pacific Park in the heart of your district, Ahmad? The park that has remained closed for his entire Council tenure? The park that you tried to give away to a private event planner with no parking solutions, until the majority of Council stopped your terrible giveaway of public parkland.
Lie #9: “We need to increase staffing levels.”
TRUTH: Zahra sat idly by and supported the incompetent City Manager Ken Domer, who cut the Parks and Recreation staff to levels unseen in Fullerton’s history. Zahra supported the now former City Manager as he gutted the parks system and here you are taking credit for caring.
Lie #10: “On my two years on the water district, I was the person who advocated the most to create treatment plans.”
TRUTH: No, Zahra received $4000 a month pay for play appointment via Jennifer Fitzgerald and Jan Flory to get appointed to the district; and his also submitted completely plagiarized water articles to the Fullerton Observer and falsely put his name in the byline, which FFFF exposed. During Zahra’s brief time on the Orange County Water District, he did not advocate for a treatment plant. But he did try (and failed miserably) to grab a leadership position on the water district Board of Directors – alienating the entire Board.
Lie #11: Regarding parking issues in Fullerton, “I have been working with Community Development to not negatively impact neighborhoods.”
TRUTH: Zahra and his quitter Planning Commissioner appointee, Elizabeth Hansburg, have underparked every single development that they have approved.To add insult to injury, Zahra gave away street parking to homeless from other states to park their broken down RVs on neighborhood streets. Real champion of the people Ahmad.
Lie #12: Ahmad asserts himself as the reinvented fighter for weed enforcement. That somehow he is a pro-regulation candidate.
TRUTH: Zahra voted for a retail cannibas ordinance that a miniscule measurable buffer zone from homes and schools and has done nothing to get rid of illegal dispensaries, all or most of which are in his district (wonder why?). He keeps telling his gullible supporters that he fights the good fight when in reality he is in the pocket of the weed lobby.
Lie #13: “Driving food to people in my own car.”
TRUTH: Zahra had some community service to work off as part of his criminal plea deal. Zahra makes his court requirement a part of his hollow altruism brand.
There are so many more lies. Ahmad lies so effortlessly, he is one thing for sure: a sociopath.
And one final observation that does not require a TRUTH rebuttal. Look at Zahra’s facial expressions each and every time the Spanish language translator interrupts him to translate his words to constituents in his community since he does not speak Spanish. Distain. Utter distain. What a hypocrite! He doesn’t care of his community. He cares about himself.