While We Were Away: the Train Kept On Rolling

Enjoy the one way trip to insolvency

The last substantive article to run on FFFF site before its almost four year hiatus was this little gem about the “College Connector Study”, a $300,000 study designed to convince the Fullerton City Council that a streetcar system in costing (in their estimate) $140 million was exactly what the City of Fullerton needed. Why? Well, because building the streetcar would encourage high density development all along the rail line, turning Fullerton from a two story bedroom community into a six story high density, high traffic eyesore.

And, just to be clear, that was the argument in favor of wasting $140+ million on the streetcar.

What, you thought I was kidding?

Based on that report, three members of the Fullerton City Council (Chaffee, Fitzgerald and Flory) voted to make a streetcar part of the City’s transportation plan.

For the next three years, progress on the streetcar has stalled, and a competing proposal in Anaheim (this one estimated at $325 million) was shot down by the City Council after a coalition of good government activists ousted the Chamber backed majority from power. Unfortunately (to borrow the tagline for the Friday the 13th Part VI poster), nothing this evil ever dies, and the Fullerton Trolley is back. And like all bad horror sequels, it’s even bigger and more elaborate than before, while making even less sense.

I present to you, the Orange County Centerline:

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay. Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare.

The Centerline (something which has been in various stages of development at OCTA for over a decade) incorporates the Fullerton plan, along with a proposed streetcar line through Santa Ana, and several other lines. The plan is to run the line all the way through Harbor Boulevard all the way up to the transportation center. This would probably explain why that streetcar has been popping up on the artist conception for the Fox Block (image above).

OCTA recently provided a presentation to the Fullerton City Council at Tuesday’s meeting, which can be found here . No mention of which government entity will pay for the project, but even if the OCTA picks up the entire tab, we will at a minimum be on the hook for the maintenance cost , just as Anaheim is with the ARTIC Wasteland. Anaheim taxpayers have been forced to dip into the general fund for every year of ARTIC’s operation, as the revenue generated ($1.6 million) is nowhere near enough to pay the operation ($3.9 million). But hey – the City of Anaheim was given a fancy trophy for agreeing to shoulder these expenses, so the tradeoff was totally worth it, in some people’s eyes.

The trophy is huge, gaudy, expensive, tacky, unnecessary and completely impractical. It’s the perfect metaphor.

The Streetcar/ trolley concept is an absolutely terrible idea for too many reasons to count. The cost is astronomical , the benefit miniscule, it will render the streets it is located on un-drivable (seriously, just picture trying to make it through Downtown Fullerton with that thing blocking traffic). Oh, and it will also further undermine bus service in the county, because the cost of running a streetcar line is substantially higher than rapid bus service.

So to sum up, the OCTA wants to take Orange County into the twenty first century by spending hundreds of millions of dollars developing a nineteenth century technology designed to service people who don’t need it, at the expense of the bus riders who do. Sadly, this is about par for the course for state and county government, minus the exceptionally high price tag. Lets give the Center Line project – and every other streetcar project proposed in Orange County – the quick, merciful death it deserves.

Fullerton Parking – State ADU Edition

You! I need your gas taxes & vehicle license fees… so stop driving.

Tomorrow the planning commission is going to be dealing with more parking issues. Or shall I say they’re going to be talking about something they have no control over because the State already stepped on them.

Back on 27 September 2016 Governor Moonbean signed SB 1069 into law. SB 1069 deals with “Additional Dwelling Units” or in the common vernacular “back houses”. You know the units as they’re the ones that get added behind a house so a homeowner can rent their second/third/fifth property to two groups of people as opposed to one. Charitably they’re known as “Granny Units” and uncharitably as “‘Mommy why is the creepy man staring at me all the time’ Units”.

The merits or pitfalls of these units notwithstanding, as we now legally have to allow for them all over town, this particular piece of legislation includes the following nugget:

Cities must waive parking requirements for ADUs that are entirely contained within existing structures, or that are within one-half mile of public transit, one block of a car-share vehicle, or in a historic district.

Within one-half mile of public transit. Okay, so let’s put that into context. Here’s a map of Fullerton to which I’ve added the major bus lines of OCTA in blue.

At least OCTA doesn’t go near the nicer houses.

Using the Google Maps Distance Tool I can say that 1/2 mile would mean that Fullerton cannot require additional parking for ADUs anywhere approximately South of North Court. Likewise no new parking requirements would be allowed 1/2 mile East or West of Euclid or State College for ADUs. I’d worry about the neighborhood by CSUF but with CollegeTown coming back (courtesy of Japanese Chat Girls) that’s the least of their worries.

I loathe writing about roads and parking, truly I do yet unfortunately our elected betters seem to not understand human nature and thus the issues constantly come up.

This no required parking if within a half-mile of public transit is because allegedly the low-income take public transit unlike those who write these stupid laws. The poor take so much public transit that we subsidize the snot out of buses, streetcars, trolleys and hubs such as ARTIC. The poor love their public transit so much that we keep having to exempt streets from overnight parking in the lower-income apartments thanks to their under-parked nature. Why if only the folks in those low-income apartments could find parking for all of the public transit that they love to take we wouldn’t need to exempt so many streets.

Add this newest parking issue to the quiver of arrows that will be used to kill the overnight parking ban. As an aside I wonder how many new AirBnB rentals will be built here in Fullerton thanks to this “affordable housing” bill.

It’s Official. Fullerton has the Worst Roads in Orange County

Not bad.

Well done, Fullerton.

A recent report from the OCTA lists OC cities’ “pavement condition indexes” and Fullerton shows up at the very bottom.

And the projected future conditions look even worse.

But that doesn’t stop councilmember Jennifer Fitzgerald from shamelessly touting the “success” of her road repair efforts in her campaign material.

Here’s a video of councilmembers Fitzgerald, Flory, Chaffee and Popoff making excuses for the sad condition of our asphalt.



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.

OCTA Uncut

A month ago we posted the OCTA surveillance video that captured the immediate reaction of witnesses after the Kelly Thomas beating.

Here is the full video from OCTA Bus 5599’s DVR on July 5. Perhaps our more observant readers can glean new information from the 18 minute recording. As always, leave your observations in the comments section below.

Update: As suggested by EyeNeverSayNo, I ran the audio through a noise reducer to help clarify some of the conversation. That version of the video his here.

The video shows all seven cameras at once and is best viewed full screen at 720p.

The Case of The Disappearing Board Members…

Do your time and you'll get your dime...

At the OCTA Board meeting a couple weeks ago, 4th District County Supervisor Shawn Nelson lofted a proposal that the members of this fairly opaque (but very rich) agency who attend the meetings should only receive their stipend if they attend the entire meeting. Nelson’s idea was that in order to get that stipend, someone ought to actually earn it.

Well there’s a novel concept. Getting folks on the government dime to actually put in their time.

It seems that OCTA, and many similarly under-scrutinized agency and special districts are plagued by members who show up for only part of the meeting to qualify for their stipend, then disappear. And certain pols are most notorious for this behavior – more on them later.

Well, naturally Nelson’s plan went over like flatulence in church. You can’t expect the dope addicts to voluntarily give up their smack, now can you? But our thanks to Nelson anyway for doing the right thing. And to those who continue to rip-off the public: shame on you.

Birds of a Feather…

…well you know the rest.

Straw man says: With the thoughts I’d be thinkin’, I could be another Lincoln, if I only had a brain…

Here is Mr. Hypocrite J. Cunningham extolling the virtues of Kris Murray, a candidate for Anaheim city council, and heavily promoted by Anaheim’s Mayor-for-Hire, Curt Pringle; some woman he elevated from obscurity to occupy a six-figure sinecure at OCTA:

I, for one, am wholeheartedly supporting Kris. There are several stand-out individuals running for city council seats in Orange County this year, and Kris is one of them. She is smart, conservative, principled and experienced in both the business sector and government. She will make an outstanding member of the Anaheim City Council.

Ah! Smart, conservative, principled, experienced. Smart? Who knows? Her experience is with the big government Business Council and a giant government bureaucracy – OCTA – which is squandering hundreds of millions on Pringle’s slimy insider ARTIC and High Speed Rail deals. Principled? Well, Hell, we know what principle Cunningham and Pringle hold dear. There’s always a  dollar sign in front of it.

Now, enjoy this snippet from the comment thread in which Cunningham extols the virtues of Big Chief repuglican Curt Pringle:

Curt has been an outstanding Mayor of Anaheim, and poll after poll confirms that. He has very high positive name ID in Anaheim, and if he were on the ballot again, he would be overwhelmingly re-elected.

Kris is and ought to be proud to have Curt’s endorsement.

Uh, yeah, right, whatever you say Jerb. Poll after poll? What polls would those be?

'Pug role model

See, for a guy who posed as a social conservative, yet who behind the scenes pulled down mega-bucks shilling for the dopey, big guvment Rob Reiner Children and Families Commission, making a fortune off of government influence peddling, like Pringle has done, is some sort of badge of honor. And of course Pringle may very well hold the key to Cunningham’s economic future now that his 1st Five plug has been pulled.

Nothing wrong there, of course. If Pringle hadn’t latched on to all this gravy some evil, unprincipled Democrat would have scooped up all those simoleons.

A Masterpiece of Brevity and Focus

The Grand Jury has reported on the OCTA’s budget mess and their deficiency in Bus service.  Here is how the report begins:

The mission statement of the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is a masterpiece of brevity and focus:

“Our mission is to enhance the quality of life in Orange County by delivering safer, faster, and more efficient transportation solutions.”

The report identifies how the OCTA had the right idea when it cut bus services and raised fares by calling the action prudent.  Then later the report notes that the rise in fares had negative effect on the ridership.  Ergo, we must lower bus fares but only after full state funding is restored.

The report also calls into question competing priorities with the federal handout of $2.25 billion for high-speed rail and the $143 million set aside for the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, which the City of Anaheim is not contributing to.  The Grand Jury points out that OCTA needs to review its priorities with these funds.  The Grand Jury says that the “governmental relations committee of the OCTA Board should urge Orange County ’s congressional delegation to lobby for legisla­tive modification of the $2.25 billion.”

The final recommendation by the Grand Jury is for OC’s political and transportation leaders to hold a series of public meetings, the goal of which would be aimed at creating a countywide transit agency that will have sufficient au­thority and funding to overcome parochial­ism in developing a modern transit system.

I love this gem from the report:

One member of the transit agency’s board char­acterized the economic impact this way: “The busi­nesses and industries in Orange County that depend on low-income workers would grind to a halt.”

It would appear that we taxpayers subsidize bus service (to the tune of more than 80% of the total cost) so that low-income earners can keep their low-income jobs which helps keep low-income employers staffed with low-cost employees…  Ergo, you and I subsidize burger stands, Walmarts, and rich people with nannies and maids.

Thanks OCTA!

Metrolink Expanding, But Where Are The Riders?

The following commentary was sent to us by a friend who is concerned about a questionable Metrolink service expansion from Fullerton to Laguna Niguel.

A fourth track is currently being built at the Fullerton Station, exclusively for Metrolink’s new Orange County service — dubbed Metrolink Service Expansion Program (MSEP) by the folks at OCTA. I believe the concept is flawed from the start, and last I heard it is costing taxpayers at least $417 million.

Anyone up for a ride to Laguna Niguel?

I’ve asked numerous people at Metrolink how OCTA justifies the demand for this service. Nobody has an answer. Since it will run between Fullerton and Laguna Niguel only, it’s totally useless for commuters needing to get to Los Angeles. In my experience riding Metrolink, there are very few passengers riding such short distances in Orange County. If a person can afford $14 for a round-trip ticket Fullerton to Irvine and back, there’s a very good chance they already have a car and won’t bother to ride the train.

Furthermore, this service won’t appeal to bus riders unless OCTA drastically reduces the fares. That won’t happen… they just raised the fares again on July 1st. OCTA’s pipe dream to operate this service “every 30 minutes” makes a stupid idea all the more ludicrous.

There’s an angle to this which will affect the Fullerton Station (and the surrounding area) in a big way. Since the northbound trains terminate at Fullerton, the station area will become a layover terminal (akin to an airport) for people needing to get to Los Angeles. Suppose somebody takes the wrong northbound, thinking it goes to Los Angeles, and finds themselves in Fullerton having to wait HOURS for the next train to Los Angeles. There will be people sleeping on benches, sleeping on the ground, leaving their trash all over the place, etc, etc. The local restaurants will have to deal with freeloaders using their bathrooms. It just won’t be a good situation.