The Downtown Report: Mid-November Edition

Central Business District (CBD)

It’s hard to imagine all these years later being the new guy now, the too-young-to-know-anything guy in Downtown Fullerton in the 80s.  I quickly learned from other business owners that they had a lot of issues with various unique regulations that governed downtown.

New guidelines were passed and later amended in 1995. A definition was given, and we learned downtown was actually the Central Business District, “bounded by Chapman Avenue on the north, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad on the south, both sides of Pomona Avenue on the east and both sides of Malden Avenue on the west.” But then, the confusion sets in, as this was also stated: “In addition, the area north of Chapman Avenue bounded by the Orange County Flood Control Channel on the west, Ellis Place on the north, and Pomona Avenue on the east, is also part of the Central Business District.”

Well, we did not ignore the guidelines but did ignore the boundary definitions as we all considered places as far north as Harbor and Berkeley and other locations further south, east, and west as downtown and marketed them as such. We also made a lot of headway back then in getting some regulations loosened up a bit, starting with signage, outdoor banners, simplifying the approval process for various building improvements, exterior lighting, outdoor displays, and outdoor dining. Downtown would no longer look old and tired, but improved and ‘vintage,’ suddenly pulling in shoppers who until then only seemed to prefer the corporate mall experience. We were on our way.

Speaking of outdoor dining, word is that the large tent at Heroes will be up for another few months at the least.  Don’t we all now appreciate the opportunity to be outdoors while dining? Sure seems like it. Many outdoor dining possibilities will continue for the time being.

Aerial photograph of Downtown Fullerton.

What Businesses are located downtown now?

Of course, the late-night scene gets all the ink. Perhaps surprisingly, there are many more businesses located within or surrounding the CBD than restaurants and bars, including a number of offices, banks, retail shops, churches, schools, residential and industrial buildings, and a lot more. In fact, there are literally hundreds of different businesses in our downtown, which makes it a beehive of activity. That’s why the name of the Downtown Merchants Association was changed to Downtown Business Association decades ago. When you are looking for any of these, take a look downtown if you please.

Photo Op

Walking west on the SoCo alley towards Bootleggers and Two Saucy Broads, we spotted a group making themselves comfortable on the bench that many feel free to stop and relax on. In a hurry, we kept going, even though the urge to take a photo was real. After all, this was reminiscent of a very famous Crosby Stills & Nash album cover.

After saying goodbye to some friends, I headed back to my car, and the trio called me over. They were laughing and carrying on, having a great time, and wanted to chat me up. I asked if they knew the album cover and all said yes. When I asked if I could take a photo, they smiled and gave an even more enthusiastic yes.

And so, here it is, being careful to make sure everyone knows this is a tribute, not a parody, or in any way poking fun. They were an inspiration. I have not seen them since, so I don’t have their names. Notice the signs in the background. Perhaps appropriate considering their situations, all without a place to call home.

I read a lot into this photo, looking at their clothes, the wristband, and the look in their eyes. What were their stories? Might find out next time. As you can see, the woman on the far left wanted to make the photo humorous. Mission accomplished. There is so much more to this than meets the casual eye.


November 15 is America Recycles Day and it is also the day this edition of The Observer hits the streets. Given that, we can only suppose it had a great impact, and if you are reading this on the 15th, it’s not too late to help Keep America Beautiful. Nobody wants to pick up trash but if you can safely toss something you see, please do, as well as recycling all your own items as you can, keeping Fullerton green and clean. As we used to say, “Don’t be a litter bug.”

Photo Quiz

Identify the school in this photo. Send answer to Mike at


Only a couple o’ misses in my last column, the historic photo was 2000 E Wilshire not 200 and Rutabegorz is of course on Pomona, not Lemon. I am glad some of you noticed but regret the misinformation. Let’s see what happens this time… 

2 replies »

  1. Thanks Skip and thanks for becoming a new subscriber, even though you live out of state, wow