Win an Original FFFF “TERM LIMITS” t-shirt



Dear Loyal Friends, considering the number of comments received on the prior post , the majority of you have agreed that WTF’s idea for a contest to see which is the ugliest and cheapest looking piece of cardboard crap to come from Redevelopment is a good one. So, email images of your ugliest and cheapest looking piece of cardboard crap to come from Redevelopment to: I’ll post them, and our loyal Friends will select the winner.

The lights on the floor sealed the deal for me
The lights on the floor sealed the deal for me

 The winner will receive an original Friends For Fullerton’s Future “TERM LIMITS” t-shirt.

Fullerton Friends Around the World!

Fullerton Friend Yoshii Kawamura Blogs Hard Before Milk Break
Fullerton Friend Yoshii Kawamura Blogs Hard Before Milk Break

Four-and-a-half year old Yoshii Kawamura of Minamiechizen Village, Nanjo District, Fukui Prefecture, and penpal of Golden Hills Elementary’s March Citizen of the Month, Trevor McGrath, takes a break from precalculus class at the Nanjo Normal School to enjoy a riveting FFFF blog post by the Fullerton Shadow.

Does Fullerton Hate Modern Architecture?

We Really Like This
We Really Like This Sort of Stuff

It’s bad enough that the City of Fullerton has always shown a penchant for fake old, with its attendant brick veneer and styrofoam cornices. Sooner or later we may actually come to accept this affront to taste by the bureaucratic boobeoisie. What really adds insult to injury, however is the cavalier way that modern architecture is treated by the City. By “modern’ we really mean functional, original architecture that encloses space creatively that employs abstract patterns, uses modern materials, and that expresses its structure in its outward appearance.


What really bugs us was to watch last year’s “Jefferson Commons” abomination approved unanimously by the City Council. Bad enough was the proposed monstrosity; we’re used to architectural crap. Even worse was the propsed demolition of three mid-century modern gems on Chapman Avenue without so much as a backward glance.


So why do we bring this up again? Last night the Council voted to extend the permit deadlines for an additional two years since the new developer (the old one already bailed out) can’t get financing. Several speakers pleaded the case that the buildings in question have historical merit that was not recognized by a faulty CEQA process (wow, no surprise there!), and that demolition should be postponed at least until a final project looks like it could start. These seem like a pretty prudent path to us.

Why these buildings were not originally identified as historic resources is not hard to explain. The City ignores anything not listed on their register of significant buildings; that accomplishes the bare minimum of CEQA requirements, but doesn’t say much for the integrity of the process. The out-of-town lobbyist had done a good job of spreading around the wealth and the buildings never stood a chance. Meanwhile, Fullerton’s Heritage group, that should have been raising Holy Hell, was apparently too busy putting brass plaques on things and telling NOCCCD administrators how much they prefer fake old to modern architecture.

So Where Does Tom Daly Stand on Redevelopment Expansion?


The proposed vast expansion of Fullerton’s Redevelopment Project Area is an issue with countywide implications. The County Board of Supervisors has established a policy of opposition to the expansion: practically because it will divert property tax from other governmental agenices; and, philosophically because it raises the specter of eminent domain, and potential impacts to businesses and residents, alike.

Since Mr. Daly is running for 4th District Supervisor to replace Chris Norby we wonder what kind of position he might take on this issue, if any, before the May hearing at our city council. Fullerton City Councilman Shawn Nelson, an oft-rumored opponent of Daly, has already staked out a position of opposition to this intrusive government expansion.


When Daly was mayor of Anaheim the that city pursued an active role of redevelopment sterilization and homogenization – just the sort of thing many Fullertonians are justifiably concerned about.

I'm From the Magic Kingdom and I'm Here to Help
I'm From the Magic Kingdom and I'm Here to Help

Stand by Friends. If we hear anything we will let you know.


It Wasn't Here a Minute Ago
It Wasn't Here a Minute Ago

The trustees over at the North Orange County Community College District have seemingly done the impossible, conjuring up a new football stadium at the FJC campus out of thin air. Apparently the neighbors aren’t too crazy about this sleight-of-hand since it means noise, lights, traffic, etc. They decided to raise their own ruckus, and in a democracy that’s a damn fine thing.

What happened was that the locals discovered the District had been guilty of “mission creep” or bureaucratic metastasis, or whatever you want to call it. But rather than our going on, let’s let neighbor Ken Bane speak for himself (courtesy of another FFFF thread):

“the EIR only contemplated a “renovation” of the track field. but when no one was looking, they added lighing, a PA system, and seating 2000+. When we caught their hand in the cookie jar they agreed to be a “good neighbor” and do the required supplemental CEQA review, like someone following the law makes them worthy, when in fact they wouldn’t have unless we busted them. And frankly, we’re skeptical they’ll do it right from here anyway.”

We recall a Ken Bane who used to work for the Fullerton Planning Department many years ago and wonder if this is the same fellow. If it is, we have confidence that his narration of the environmental deficiencies of the project is pretty accurate.

Now it may come as a shock to some of you Loyal Friends, but it is the government itself that is often the biggest scofflaw when it comes to abiding by CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). Even when they don’t get a categorical exemption public agencies often find ways of dodging the intent of CEQA that could land you or me in the slammer.

NOCCCD Tries an End Run
NOCCCD Tries an End Run

As our own Fullerton Harpoon pointed out in response to Mr. Bane, this enhanced plan will require an amendment to an approved EIR including new facts not previously in evidence. Traffic, Noise and Aesthetic EIR categories will have to be addressed, and the new document should also include alternatives to the project – in this case one alternative could be to rent somebody else’s facility as a congenial part of a “no build” alternative; maybe it could be the Fullerton High School stadium a mere quarter of a mile away.

CEQA also requires that if there are unmitigated impacts (such as in this case lighting and noise will undoubdtedly be) a statement of overidding considerations be made identifying some objective public need for building the project. In this case it’s pretty hard to see how anybody could justify the necessity of a game-day stadium, especially for the few hundred spectators that show up for a typical Hornet game.

where'd everybody go?

This may be one of the rare cases where a citizen/neighborhood group can take on a government agency – and win. We will try to keep our devoted readers up to date on this issue.

Little Pawns in the Big School Budget Battle

“Our teacher is going out of business!”

Those were the words that came from an 8 year old child at Golden Hill Elementary on March 13th as the names of freshly pink-slipped teachers were posted on a special sandwich board in front of the school. Balloons and pink hearts marked the classrooms of teachers who were on the list. The children pondered aloud “Who’s going to play the guitar?” One distressed child finally announced “I’m packing up and going to where Mr. D goes. I’m running away.”

Pink hearts let the children know which teachers were given pink slips.
Pink hearts at Golden Hill Elementary let the children know which teachers were given pink slips.

While some Fullerton elementary schools protect their children from the politics of school funding, the faculty and PTA at Golden Hill Elementary decided to stage their own on-campus rally, dramatically putting their students on notice that unfortunate changes were ahead.

I understand the frustration and worry that teachers have about the district budget, but it is not right to flaunt a budget battle to an impressionable and captive audience on school grounds. Children deserve to know when something is going to change, but it needs to be presented in an encouraging way to ensure that each child can cope with the potential loss that may be ahead.

Child development experts express the importance of being sensitive when explaining job loss to young children. The most critical items on the list are: Be positive about the situation; leave out the gory details; don’t disrupt your child’s routine and keep everything as normal as possible. Since our teachers are required to take child development classes, most of them should know this, and yet all of this advice was ignored at the expense of our children on Pink Slip Day.

Young children were used
A young child holds up a sign at the pink slip protest in Downtown Fullerton on March 12th, 2009.

As teachers and parents continue to fight the noble political battle to keep our classrooms funded, they should be careful to hold our children’s emotional wellbeing above the fray.

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever

The Fullerton Observer Observing
The Fullerton Observer Observing

On March 7th 2009 people from all over the state descended on Fullerton to enjoy their right to political free speech.  Depending on whom you talk to, the crowd, that came by bus, train, bicycle and by foot, numbered in the thousands, with some accounts placing the total over ten thousand.

The “tax revolt” sponsored by popular radio entertainers Ken and John of KFI, was big news. No matter how you figure it.

And yet the non-Friends of Fullerton’s future over at The Fullerton Observer ignored the story completely. Check out their mid-March and early April issues to see if you can find a single reference to this huge event. None.

Okay, later in the month the Observer’s patron saint Obama the Good hove into Orange County and we gagged our way through Pam Keller’s giggly tribute to the event, complete with her characteristic abuse of the perpendicular pronoun. Still, not a single solitary mention of the largest crowd ever assembled in downtown Fullerton? Yet room for all the usual Observer dross?

If the crowd had assembled to support raising taxes and spending more money on government employee unions you can bet your bottom dollar that the Observer would have been all over this like flies on… well you get the point.

Update: thanks to James Crum’s comment I indeed did discover an article in the mid-March edition by a T. DeMoss; relegated to page 8, of course, under the “ObserverHeader” headline: Radio Fans In Fullerton. Hardly a clear statement of any content relating to the assembly. When I reviewed the Observer headlines I naturally missed the connection. Actually the DeMoss article was really pretty objective and kudos to him/her. But to remind our friends of the typical Observer editorial bias, a story about a demonstration by locals against cutbacks in the local schools made the front page, as usual.

Also lurking at the bottom of the second page was this gem at the end of the letters section, but not signed by anybody. Hmmm. Now this is the Observer we’ve come to know and love. Some kooks show up at an event and everybody gets painted with the same brush. Almost like racial stereotyping.

Racists at the Tax Revolt Radio Show

Among the raving fans of the selfserving Clear Channel radio talk show hosts who invaded Fullerton on March 7th were notorius members of several hate groups including KKK off-shoots and the Minute Men. How did this group get a permit for this gathering? Let’s hope they aren’t allowed back in town. To see for yourself go to and punch in Racists at KFI AM 640 event

Where’s the Blight?

map1At its May 5 meeting, The Fullerton City Council will consider expanding the city’s redevelopment area by 1,165 acres. This would place nearly 25 % of the entire city under the redevelopment agency, with its expanded powers to use eminent domain, divert property taxes and subsidize development.

State law allows the creation or expansion of redevelopment areas for only one reason—blight.

Blight is a legal requirement. Without it, a redevelopment area can be thrown out by the courts, as has been done with the cities of Mammoth Lakes, Temecula, Glendora and Diamond Bar. Judges are loathe to allow more revenue diversion unless the law is respected. The proposed expansion would place much of Southeast and Southwest Fullerton’s commercial areas under redevelopment. Are they blighted?

picture1The allegedly blighted area abuts my College Park neighborhood, along Raymond Ave. It includes a new Walgreen’s, the original Polly’s Pies and the Albertson’s where I shop. South of the tracks lies the newly-built Valencia Industrial Park, leased to near capacity, and the bustling Home Depot. It includes multinational distribution centers such as Yokohama Tire, UPS, Alcoa Aluminum and the Kimberly-Clark plant.

The council is being asked to declare as blighted all 167 small businesses along West Commonwealth, stretching from Euclid to Dale. All of these business owners must realize that a blight designation automatically makes them subject to possible future eminent domain.

atnip1Also blighted would be the new Fresh’n’Easy shopping center at Euclid & Orangethorpe. The proposed blight includes the Fullerton Municipal Airport and adjacent aviation businesses. It includes unique regional specialty retailers on Orangethorpe like Bob Marriott’s Fly Fishing Store and the Harley Davidson Center, both the largest of their kind on the West Coast.

Urban Futures Inc. conducted the city’s blight report, which studied conditions in the proposed expansion areas. It found that out of 629 buildings, only 5% were deteriorating. Less than 2% of the all parcels are described as incompatible. In the proposed project area, sales tax revenues grew 50% faster than in the rest of the city. There is no blight to legally justify the expansion.

fishing-storeExpansion means the agency will divert even more property tax funds from local government. Statewide, 10% of all property tax revenues are diverted by redevelopment agencies—that’s $5 billion annually. Most of this is at the expense of public schools, which then must be backfilled from the state general fund. But the state is now broke, and the backfills can’t be maintained without the massive new tax hikes proposed for the May 19 ballot. Redevelopment also diverts funds from the city’s general fund with an estimated $100 million loss to the municipal budget over 45 years.

Here in OC, RDAs now consume 15% more property taxes than all of county government. The County of Orange has lost $190 million to redevelopment agencies since 1990. This translates into real cuts in public services. We must defend our public revenue stream against future diversions.

With these funds, RDAs typically assemble land (under threat of eminent domain) and subsidize new retail development. Costco alone has received $30 million in public money just in OC, while Walmart has gotten over a $1 billion nationally in tax subsidies. The promised revenues rarely materialize as sales taxes are simply shifted from one area to another. Subsidized corporate big boxes soak up the sales that used to go to small businesses.

In 1998, the respected Public Policy Institute of California conducted a comprehensive study of redevelopment areas throughout the state. This groundbreaking report “Subsidizing Redevelopment in California” found no net economic benefits that justified the huge public expenditures.

fake-2nd-floor3392135869_b2ae8a32751Compare the three shopping centers at Harbor and Orangethorpe: Metro Center and Fullerton Town Center received massive public subsidies, while Orangefair was built and recently improved with purely private money. Compare the Knowlwood complex at Harbor and Commonwealth (with its fake second story), built with $510,000 in RDA subsidies, next to privately built Stubrik’s and Slidebar.

RDA funds can be used for purely public projects. While a member of the Fullerton City Council, I did vote for redevelopment funding for infrastructure, parks, libraries and the Maple School rehab. maple-school3392113811_21cf1eec3eBut the temptation to get involved in purely private commercial ventures makes city government a major developer and landowner.

Because of site-based sales tax allotment, cities typically use redevelopment to subsidize new retail centers. Auto malls, shopping centers and multiplexes have all been built with public funds. With retail centers now overbuilt and languishing, where is the market for all these new taxable sales? With property values plummeting, when will any additional property tax increment materialize?

Fullerton’s current RDA areas were created when blight standards were vague and unenforced. Subsequent laws require blight to be definitively proven. Judges have little tolerance for city governments simply seeking to expand power and revenue at others’ expense.

As a county official, I’m concerned about redevelopment’s impact on public services. As a Fullerton native, I’m concerned about an official declaration that 25% of my hometown is blighted. If redevelopment really has cured blight in our city, why does it continue to grow after 35 years? If there is no blight, why are city officials so eager to flout the law and denigrate Fullerton’s true condition?ns3392235153_c2af9988b52

At our June 17, 2008 meeting, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to oppose the proposed Fullerton RDA expansion. The opposition was based on the feared loss of County revenues and County Counsel’s opinion that there is no blight to legally justify the expansion.