Local Government

 Fullerton City Council Notes, July 6, 2021 

Fullerton City Council meeting in City Hall.

Matthew Leslie

All Council members attending.

It was reported that during Closed Session the Council had acted regarding an appeal of attorney fees in the City’s legal dispute with Air Combat U.S.A. The Council also voted 3 to 2 to adopt a non-binding project framework for a boutique hotel on the grounds of the Fullerton Transportation Center. They had previously entered an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with the developer, whose project would still need to be approved in a public hearing by the Council at some future date, as would a sale of the property upon which it would be built. Resident Jane Reifer noted prior to the Closed Session decision that she would have preferred to see a Request for Proposals issued to develop the site rather than through an ENA.

Public Comments

Jacki Danus and Jesse Genera asked the Council to stop ticketing recreational vehicles that people like themselves live in. Jacki said there were 36 parking spaces on Walnut Avenue, enough room for 18 RVs. Jesse said police had impounded his trailer taking all his possessions and money, leaving him effectively homeless.

Another speaker said she thought the Council had been intimidated into moving the Pride flag from the front of City Hall to the flagpole, and she submitted a list of suggested flags to also be flown on the pole.

City Manager Steve Danley reported that the city is projected to end the 2020/2021 fiscal year with a $4 million surplus.

Consent Calendar Items two and three (see below) were pulled at the request of residents. The other six items were approved with a 5 to 0 vote. These items include:

  • Use of $121,036.02 in Asset Seizure Funds by police to purchase 3 unmarked vehicles.
  • $161,879.10 per month Professional Services Agreement with Glass Box Technology to “identify cyber security needs and implement security and governance software on the City’s IT network.”
  • $127,820.09 for already completed work on Jacaranda-Drake Area Infrastructure Improvements
  • Misc. storm drain improvements

Consent Calendar Item two concerned the City’s Legislative Platform, an annual statement of positions on State legislation. Resident Jane Reifer spoke in favor of the Platform’s opposition to SB9, a Senate bill that would allow six housing units on any current single family home property in California, by right, and an additional two with local planning commissions and city council approval. Reifer urged the Council to add a statement in opposition to SB10, a companion bill that would allow 10 to 14 apartments on single family home lots throughout the State. Mayor Whitaker noted that the Council’s opposition to SB9 was consistent with maintaining local control and agreed that SB9 and SB10 would remove that control. However, neither he nor any other member of the Council made any suggestion to add to the Legislative Agenda to oppose SB10. Instead, it was approved as presented, with four “yes” votes and one abstention by Councilmember Ahmad Zahra.

Consent Calendar Item three proclaimed the end of the local State of Emergency adopted last year to address COVID-19. Fullerton Fire Chief Adam Loeser assured resident Egleth Nuncci that terminating the state of emergency would not put Fullerton at risk of receiving government reimbursements. Responding to resident Jane Reifer’s question about the Council’s use of Zoom for public communications during meetings, the City Clerk said that it would be continued through September of this year.

Public Hearings and Other Council Business

Electronic Billboard

The Council voted 5 to 0 to issue a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) at 303 N. Placentia Avenue near the 57 freeway. Although the Council approved the use of freeway-oriented electronic signs in August 2020, the firm General Outdoor Advertising is the first applicant for one. The sign will be 66 ft in height, with two 14 ft by 48 ft display faces. The city will be allowed to run “one eight-second Public Service Message per minute” continually on the signs as part of the agreement. The city will also realize 12% of net gross receipts from the sale of billboard ads. Planning Commission had also approved the sign on May 26.

Deferral of Development Impact Fees

Last May, due to the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, the Council adopted a program to defer certain Development Impact Fees usually required up front by developers. No developers applied for the program, but, according to City Planner Heather Allen, several intend to do so. According to the Agenda Report: “The impact fees deferred under this Program include: Parks Acquisition and Development Fee, Traffic Impact Mitigation Fee, Sanitation Fee, and General Plan Update Fee.” Council voted 5 – 0 to extend the program for an additional year to help facilitate development in the city.

RV Parking

The Council approved 5 – 0 the revision of a parking ordinance adopted last November intended to make it difficult to park RVs and trailers without authorization for extended periods of time. The revisions refine the definition of RV and clarifies language “regarding permit issuance and the permissible timeframe for use of power generators.” Several residents spoke about the revised ordinance. A woman named Jenny urged the Council to stop criminalizing homelessness. Curt Johnston pointed out that people experiencing homelessness cannot legally be ticketed if there is no place provided for them to sleep and asked why that law should not apply to those who are homeless but living in RVs. Curtis Gamble said the City’s Safe Parking program was supposed to provide locations for people to park their vehicles and suggested that some of the $16 million in American Recovery Act funding should be used to help those with no homes and that the city should stop “bullying the homeless.” Jesse, the man who spoke earlier in the meeting about his RV being seized, said that if he stayed in a Safe Parking area, he would have to sign a paper authorizing police to search his vehicle without cause.

Developer Selection for 1600 W. Commonwealth

The Council selected National CORE as the developer for City-owned property located at 1600 W. Commonwealth Ave. The 2.25-acre lot is subject to sale through the Surplus Lands Act, which compels cities to make surplus property available for either housing or park use. The Community Development Department made no recommendation of a developer to the Council but summarized key points in each of the five responding developer proposals. The five plans differed in the number, size, and affordability of units, and how much each developer was willing to pay for the land. By law, the land cannot be sold for higher than its market rate value, which won’t be known until an appraisal is conducted, but the current estimated value is around $6 million.

Responding developers were C & C Development, Jamboree, Meta Housing Corporation, National CORE, and Related Company.

The staff report noted that, “All developers request that the city provide the land value through a residential receipts loan (paid back annually) based on revenue generated by the site,” but developer National Core offered $1.5 million of its $4.5 million price up front and planned the highest number of units, a fact cited by Council member Jesus Silva as one factor that gained the developer his support. By contrast, Mayor Pro Tem Nick Dunlap said he rated National CORE last on his list. Fred Jung ranked Meta Housing as his first choice, and National CORE third. Councilmember Zahra asked if National CORE could amend their plan to include more public space, noting that theirs was the plan with the least public space allotted. Patricia Whitaker (no evident relation to Mayor Whitaker) of National CORE responded that they would be willing to plan more green recreational space for renting families.

Mayor Whitaker said it was important to insulate residents from railroad tracks on one side and street on the other, presumably from the sounds of trains and auto traffic, respectively. The proposed development’s total number of units, adequate parking, allocation of different sorts of units to include families, and a good mix of amenities were also of importance to him. He said that National CORE stood out from the rest. Whitaker also thought it unusual that no nearby residents had expressed opposition to the submitted plans. A 2018 plan by Pathways of Hope to build permanent supportive housing on the site was ultimately abandoned when residents of the neighborhood north of Commonwealth objected to it.

A motion to choose Meta Housing was supported by Fred Jung and Nick Dunlap, however, National Core was chosen with support of Jesus Silva, Ahmad Zahra, and Bruce Whitaker, passing 3 to 2.

In closing remarks, Councilmember Jung asked for a Conditional Use Permit review of the downtown restaurant JB23 and expressed concern about not seeing the issuance of an RFP for Union Pacific Park on the next agenda forecast.

July 20 City Council Agenda Forecast

  • Mutual Aid Agreement between Orange County and Fullerton
  • Runway 06/24 Shoulder Enhancement Contract Award
  • Early Morning Parking on W. Whiting and Malden Avenues
  • Resident-Only Parking on Old River Road
  • Rescinding Early Morning Parking on Fern Drive

5 replies »

  1. When is the Council going to address the problems of all the empty business lots that are all fenced up and overgrown with weeds? Bring in new businesses for crying out loud!

  2. Since the Council Meeting, I’ve asked for some clarification on the item about using Asset Seizure Funds to Modernize Fullerton’s Police Fleet. I asked a number of the Fullerton City Council Members if any of those “Asset Seizure Funds” were derived from the seizure of some of the vehicles impounded while the folks living in their RVs were parked on Valencia. I was told that if that were the case, that the amount of money derived from their sale would not have been high, that most of these funds were derived from raids on gangs selling drugs.

    That said pretty much everyone I talked to, including those City Council Members didn’t particularly like the use of the funds _at all_ as these are derived from seizing property from people merely accused / arrested for committing crimes, rather than from those convicted of them.

    Pretty much all everyone I talked to (and I’d agree as well) saw this practice, actually quite standard across law enforcement across the country today — so Fullerton PD would not be in anyway alone in this matter — to be nevertheless _fundamentally irreconcilable_ with our 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

    However, I still do wish to underline here that even if only a small fraction of these funds came from the seizure of property of people who are homeless then this should be of a real moral concern for all of us.

    But the whole practice of seizing, selling and using property of others _before they are actually convicted of any crime_ seems fundamentally dirty to me.

  3. Happy to see affordable housing at 1600 West commonwealth. And, regardless of which proposal was chosen, I’m just happy that some kind of affordable housing is going there.

    A $4 million dollar surplus is awesome. Was there any discussion of how they will spend it?

    And finally, props to Jung for reviewing JP23 (not JB23 as noted in the story). That intersection feels like a war zone on weekend nights.

    • Sounds like they left $1.5 million on the table. Not a good look when you’re teetering on insolvency.