The North Orange County Chamber (formerly Fullerton Chamber of Commerce) hosted (at $65 per ticket) a State of the City event at Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday, March 30. The program included a five-minute opening speech by Mayor Fred Jung, followed by videos featuring members of Fullerton City Council talking about recent City projects and programs, including infrastructure, fiscal health, housing, homelessness, and economic development. Between the videos, Jung spoke for 10 minutes, showing slides of upcoming projects in the City.
CSUF president Fram Virgee also spoke about his vision for creating a bridge of partnership between the university and the City of Fullerton, and also for re-creating a literal bridge across Nutwood Ave.
Below is a summary of some of the main points given during the State of the City presentation, what was said and left unsaid, along with links to news stories which give greater context on the projects and topics discussed.
Mayor Jung said that Fullerton is set to pave six miles of streets this fiscal year, with a boost from federal COVID relief money, including portions of Euclid, Orangethorpe, and Rosecrans.
Jung also mentioned Fullerton’s partnership with Sifi networks to provide fiber internet to businesses and residents throughout the City. He did not mention the numerous complaints from residents during the microtrenching process, which involved cutting into many City streets.
Jung also mentioned Fullerton’s recent contract with a company called Noresco to implement an energy efficiency program, and the fact that Fullerton is a founding member of the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA), a community choice energy program in which cities and customers can choose to receive a greater percentage of their electric power from renewable energy sources. He did not mention that the City council voted against the 100% renewable energy default option.
OCPA service for businesses began on April 1. According to reporting by Voice of OC, many business residents were not given proper advance notice of the change.
Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Whitaker (appearing on video) said that the City’s tax revenue streams have recovered from the impact of the pandemic, with sales tax projected to make a full recovery this fiscal year.
He did not mention the recent 2.5% across the board cuts voted for by a Council majority (Jung, Whitaker, and Dunlap) that eliminated 21 positions, nor the fact that the City currently has 135 vacant positions with only 4 of 18 positions filled in the Landscape Division, nor the over 100 Parks and Rec employees who were laid off during the pandemic.
On a more positive note, the City is starting to hire again.
Councilmember Ahmad Zahra (appearing by video) said, “Housing affordability is one of the biggest challenges facing our state, and Fullerton is no exception. This was extremely prevalent during the pandemic when we saw people struggling with housing, and with rent.”
Zahra talked about the upcoming affordable housing project planned for 1600 W. Commonwealth. Meta Housing will be developing 62 units of affordable housing there. “This project is a step forward in the right direction,” Zahra said.
Zahra also mentioned the Council-approved Streetlights housing development in a shopping center at Lemon and Orangethorpe, a 329-unit five-story residential building with a six-story parking structure, and up to 6500 sq. feet of retail space. Although this project is mostly market-rate housing, 19 of the units will meet affordable housing requirements.
Councilmember Jesus Silva (appearing by video) discussed two more market-rate housing developments in the pipeline, one of which has been approved by Council, and another that has not. The approved one, The Hub, is a 377-unit student-oriented housing development near Cal State Fullerton. Silva did not mention that this project has far below the normally-required number of parking spaces in an already parking-impacted area.
Silva also brought up The Pines at Sunrise Village, a proposed 164-unit housing development. Silva spoke as if this project is a done deal, despite the fact that it has not been approved by Council, and there is a large neighborhood opposition to it, mainly because it would destroy most of the Sunrise Village shopping center, which has many long-standing Korean-owned businesses.
Fullerton Police Chief Robert Dunn (appearing by video) talked about the HOPE (Homeless Outreach and Proactive Engagement) Center that is currently being developed. This new Center, funded by state money, will be a hub for coordinating homeless services to the north Orange County area.
“Our goal with the HOPE Center is to bring in partners both in the nonprofit world as well as community-based organizations and County services as well as municipal services to work in synergy with each other to provide the right resource right now to our unhoused neighbors,” Dunn said.
According to the most recent data, Fullerton had 308 unsheltered residents.
Councilmember Nick Dunlap (appearing by video) spoke about the new Goodman Logistics Center, a large industrial campus on the former Kimberly Clark site.
“This project will bring new job opportunities to our City and keep our community at the forefront of economic development,” Dunlap said.
He did not mention that construction of the Goodman Logistics Center involved destroying one of the last large orange groves in Orange County.
Dunlap also talked about the City’s plans for development of the Fox Block, including the historic Fox Theater.
“The City has partnered with Frontier Real Estate to develop a plan for the development of several City-owned properties to the north and west of the Fox Theater properties to provide professional offices, retail, and restaurant business to the community,” he said. “We’re very excited about it, and I know a lot of the neighbors and property owners are as well.”
Dunlap incorrectly said, “Recently, the City has partnered with the Fullerton Historic Theater Foundation to restore the theater and once again open it to the public.” [emphasis added] This partnership is not recent. The city of Fullerton has partnered with the Fullerton Historic Theater Foundation for nearly two decades to restore the Fox Theater.
Jung spoke about other proposed developments, including Polygon, a proposed housing development at Santa Fe and Malden, and a planned Fullerton Airport Building Rehabilitation.
Click HERE to watch the full video of the State of the City program.
Categories: Local News