Tag Archives: Fullerton Transit Center

Elevators to Nowhere – The Rising Cost Hits Fullerton Directly

Here’s the final (for now) installment of the series by our Friend “Fullerton Engineer” documenting the sad history of the project to add a couple of elevators to the existing tower/bridge structure at the DepotRemarkably, none of our elected representatives seems the least bit curious about the downward trajectory of this project, or the ultimate tap into our Facility Capital Repair Fund, a fund that was never intended to pay for new construction, particularly for projects never needed in the first place.  

The best way of avoiding embarrassing information is not to ask embarrassing questions. It’s not their money.

It may have been expensive, but it sure was unnecessary…

It took over five years, but the astonishingly high cost of an elevator addition project at the Fullerton train station finally hit Fullerton taxpayers directly in 2017.

The project that the public never asked for and doesn’t need was initiated based not on necessisity, but on the availability of money from Sacramento; and later, OCTA came to the funding rescue. But the delays piled up – year after year, and OCTA would no longer pay the bill. So in March, the City Engineer, Don Hoppe, came hat in hand and asked the Fullerton taxpayers for money. Lots of it. Here’s the staff report.

Notice how the various and diverse issues are all thrown together into a single sum – $600,000. We see added cost for the railroad flagging for some unexplained reason; the curiosity of “unforeseen” utilities on a well-developed site; an unknown amount to pay for the escalated cost of the elevator subcontractor; and finally, an unspecified amount to cover “additional assistant (sic) in contract administration” a nebulous term, but a category clearly meant to cover the ongoing cost of someone in the Public Works department.  The final item is particularly ironic given the amounts already contracted with private companies for construction support and management on this very small project.

The simple fact that these items are lumped together can only be explained by an attempt to obfuscate the nature and trues costs of the ongoing delay. And those delay costs are increasing even now, as the project seems to have stalled again.

— Fullerton Engineer

Take Care of Your Toys

Held up by wishful thinking…

When you were a kid your parents most likely told you what parents have been telling their children for thousands of years: if you don’t take care of your toys you won’t have any toys to take care of.

Too bad such admonitions are often lost on the custodians of public property. How often have you seen property owned by you and me left without proper maintenance or even abused by it’s supposed caretakers? It happens all the time, and with impunity. But how often have you seen a government actually refused resources because they can’t take care of what they already have? That’s right. I can’t remember a single instance, either.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

FFFF has already opined on the ridiculous waste of money, $4.6 million and counting, being poured into two new elevator towers at the Fullerton Depot – right next to the existing elevator bridge. Why? Because some other government agency was willing to blow the money.

It’s bad enough the new elevators are unnecessary; they are also in the wrong location since so many commuters will use the Harbor Boulevard underpass to get where they want to go – to the bridge that gets them to the huge parking structure west of Harbor.

But the most unkindest cut of all is the brutal fact that the existing bridge is a disgrace to the entire City. The glass elevators have been etched with so much tagging that they are becoming opaque; the paint, where it hasn’t peeled off, is discolored and oxidized; and the steel stair steps are rusted through. The deformed stair treads have been patched here and there with caulking, and that, too, is decaying.

The Windex didn’t help…

Bad caulk…

The closer you get, the worse it looks…

The underside. Rust never sleeps…

 

So next time somebody like Jan Flory or Jennifer Fitzgerald sneeringly defends of the “experts” in City Hall, please point them in the direction of the Fullerton Transportation Center; and remind them that thanks to the ever-generous taxpayers nobody in City Hall has to worry about breaking their toys. New ones will always be handed out.

 

While We Were Away: The Embarrassing Fullerton Bike Share Story

An acquaintance reminded me the the other day of the ridiculous OCTA “Bike Share” program of a couple years ago – one of the most embarrassing boondoggles on record, and proof that regional government agencies are just as bad as our own city when it comes to throwing our money away.

The OCTA is always ready, able and willing to waste money – some of it comparatively small amounts, and some of it (think ARTIC) monstrously large. The common theme is that hardly anybody knows about it before the dough is blown, or after because the mainstream media is so good at keeping government unaccountable.

This is the tale of Bike Share, a supposedly “green” initiative, and thus free from the constraints of economic common sense.

The Roll Out. Nelson assures a skeptical Flory that the bike is up to the task…

Back in 2012 OCTA invested in a program where people could rent bicycles from a public rack and return them. To somebody it seemed like a plausible idea. The OCTA chose our city as the test lab because of all the college kids who like to take a commuter train to Fullerton.

Pringle’s Krew: It’s dirty work, but someone’s gotta do it…

Surprise! Bike Nation, a client of Curt Pringle and Associates (the current employer of Council-lobbyist Jennifer Fitzgerald) got the contract to run the program. Better qualified vendors were rejected by the OCTA Board. And the cooperative guy who made the motion to approve Bike Nation and proceed with the program?  None other than our own 4th District Supervisor Shawn Nelson. According to the Voice of OC, the cost of the program was $700,000; the per bike ride subsidy was an astonishing $800.

The forced, painful smile betrayed the awful truth: the bikes were made for political posing, not for riding.

At the end of a couple years the magnitude of the Bike Share stupidity became clear. Almost no one signed up for the membership subscription and almost nobody was using the bicycles, bikes that were heavy and unwieldy. Some of them broke down after they had been washed.  The vendor blamed the OCTA, the OCTA blamed the vendor; but we paid for it.

And Nelson? He didn’t return a Voice of OC call asking for comment.

Fullerton Transit Center: Amerige Court on Steroids?

We just received the following notice from Friends for a Livable Fullerton:

The Fullerton Transportation Center “Specific Plan” is an approximately 40 acre project at the southeast corner of Harbor and Commonwealth. Built over the next few decades, it will take up over 6 full city blocks at one of our prime city intersections and will have a huge effect on our historic downtown and on alternative transportation for years to come. Maximum buildout would be about 2 dozen (!) 3- to 9-story buildings:

1,560 multi-family residential units
100,000 square feet of retail
100,000 sf office space
120-room, 120,000 sf hotel

Note the density and scale compared to the surrounding area:


While the plan doesn’t yet have specific building designs, the approval of this Plan and its 2,290 EIR will allow it to proceed.

City Admits Many Unavoidable Impacts

An unusual aspect of this plan is the large number of City–admitted significant environmental impacts the City Council will be called upon to “override” due to the project benefits outweighing the impacts:

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