Community Voices

City Council Notes: April 4 Meeting

Troy Trimble, the instrumental music Left to right: Eddie Carmona, music teacher at Fullerton High School, Mayor Fred Jung, and jazz ensemble student Sam Snyder

Left to right: Eddie Carmona representing Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva and City Landscape Supervisor Julio Jacobo.

Left to right: Arab American Civic Council and Councilmember Ahmad Zahra



Music in our school’s month

Troy Trimble, the instrumental music teacher at Fullerton high school, introduced high school student Sam Snyder who is in the jazz ensemble. Sam took the opportunity to contact the city and make March Music in Our Schools official with a proclamation.

Arbor Day

Julio Jacobo, the new landscape supervisor, announced that this year would be the 42nd Arbor Day. Arbor Day will be held in Independence Park on Saturday, April 22nd, from 9 am to noon. Joining the City of Fullerton will be West Coast Arborist. There will be fun activities such as crafts and face painting for the kids.

Arab American Heritage Month

Councilmember Ahmad Zahra presented the Arab American Civic Council with a certificate in honor of Arab American Heritage Month.

Public Comment

Road Safety and The state of the city event at Cal State Fullerton

• Yolanda Harrison spoke of the eight times and counting that she has nearly been hit at Lemon and Valencia trying to cross and asked that the mayor and council give the crossing guard there a heroic accommodation because she is risking her life for those kids and the public at large when she’s on duty. She complained about the $125 meal she could not attend and thanked Councilmember Charles to please continue to hold Mayor Jung accountable for the continued disrespect he shows Councilmember Zahra.

• Bernard Oh said that Mayor Jung’s behavior at the State of the City was an embarrassment. He also mentioned when Mayor Jung did not hear out Dr. Charles when she wanted to ask questions about the Legislative agenda.

• Todd Harrison said another severe traffic accident at the corner of Valencia and Lemon, Multiple police units and Fullerton Fire Fighters, and two loaded flatbed tow trucks with lots of crumpled sheet metal. Drivers, pedestrians, the mobility impaired, and school children need the city to make the corner of Valencia and Lemon safe. “Mayor Jung, I would not have believed you to be that narcissistic as to dismiss the very existence of a fellow council person who you have issues with. And Dr. Charles, thank you for having the integrity to turn away from that speech and walk out,” Harrison said.

No Front License Plate on City Officials’ Vehicles, which is Illegal

• Maureen Milton said Mayor Jung and Councilman Dunlap’s Tesla have no front license plates.

Homeless and Transportation

Curtis Gamble once again advocated for people experiencing homelessness and better bus transportation to and from shelters.

Retaining City Employees

Munish Bharadwaja, Infrastructure, and Natural Resources Committee member advocated for an employee progression plan. “We need to retain employees. We need to make an attractive place for them to work, an attractive place for them to come and to stay. Every employee we lose is institutional knowledge. We can’t gauge how much that costs us. Not only in money but also in lost services,” Bharadwaja said.

Protecting Trees and Keeping City-Owned Land

Jane Reifer commented on city-owned property that the city is considering selling to a private owner, which has over 30 historic trees classified as native trees located on a lot in South Fullerton. The private owner had already purchased a lot from the city some years ago and removed most of the historic mature trees, so there is no reason to believe they wouldn’t do that again. Reifer asked for the trees to be protected, which might make the lot less usable for the future owner or to use the surplus land act to be declared open space or for low-income housing. She also asked that future agendas be time-stamped and announced when they get revised.

Road Safety Issues

Dr. Anjali Tapadia, Active Transportation Commissioner, spoke about safety concerns. “I’m speaking to you from the corner of Highland and Roslyn, right next to Richmond Park. There have been many collisions here and, recently, a pedestrian death near the intersection where I am.

This area is a lively but dangerous stretch of road, and I echo the safety concerns brought up earlier by Mr. [and Mrs.] Harrison. Among other places in our city, this is an area where we could improve safety. The crosswalks are too far apart. People need to cross, and there’s no opportunity for them to do that safely. Right next to the park, there is no crosswalk.

If the city has continuously been notified about the safety issue but does nothing about it, it presents a liability issue. Traffic collisions are not accidents; they are infrastructure failures. We have not provisioned these areas for adequate safety, particularly for the most vulnerable road users. Every person in our city deserves to be safe on our roads.

Artificial Intelligence Bot Caller’s Opinion

A call from an Artificial Intelligence Bot using the name Roy Lister lobbied false claims against Councilmember Zahra and blasted Councilmember Dr. Charles for her letter of support holding Mayor Jung accountable for his blatant disrespect of Councilmember Zahra at the North OC Chamber of Commerce fundraiser called The State of the City. The AI Bot was afforded the same rights and respect as any human caller.

Addressing Public Concern

The mayor asked city Manager Eric Levitt to address some of the issues that came up in public comments. “According to the city engineer and interim public works director, they are looking at creating a plan to install a no-right turn for eastbound traffic and making timing modifications to improve safety at Valencia and Lemon,” Levitt said. The mayor asked about the cold weather shelter that the county-funded. Levitt said that the shelter was to close at the end of March, and they’re starting to make the improvements to correct any issues with the property. The mayor asked if any city funds were used for The State of the City. “I recognize that it’s a fundraising event for the North Orange County Chamber, but I do want to assure taxpayers [as to what the money was used for],” Jung said. Levitt said, “Approximately $20,000 was spent. That included the video, and all the presentation, which was $6,000 to $8,000 of that cost – similar cost as other cities. It could be a couple thousand more than in previous years because of inflation. In addition, the city does buy a table which is an additional $600.”

District Updates

Reporting on District 3: Councilmember Dr. Shana Charles thanked people who made public comments and assured them that the council listens and takes them into account. Cal State Fullerton has events that are open to the public. Fullerton Arboretum is free and open to the public. She thanked Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva for hosting the annual Woman of Distinction Award, which included the Director of CSUF Project Rebound, which helps people who are formerly incarcerated get their college degrees and re-enter society.

“We just heard that The State of the City cost about $20,000 of taxpayer money. I had a conversation with the head of the Chamber of Commerce, who mentioned that they spent over double that as well, so it’s obviously a very expensive event. And we heard that the ticket prices were very expensive. We have done other things in the past. In 2019 when Jesus Silva was Mayor of Fullerton, he hosted an open free public event in the Fullerton Museum Plaza,” Charles said.

Her office hours are from 12 to 2 pm Thursdays at City Hall.

Reporting on District 4: Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Whitaker said he would be updating the public on water quality issues at the April 18 city council. We have a regular and steady dialogue between the Orange County Water District and Fullerton Water Utility. No other District Representatives made reports.

Traffic Signal Vehicle Detection Equipment Purchase

City Engineer Steven Bise answered questions on the Traffic Signal Vehicle Detection Equipment Purchase request. Vehicle detection triggers a call in the traffic signal controller to switch a phase.

The old type of vehicle detection we’re loops cut into the pavement. When pavement rehabilitation comes through those intersections, the loops get torn out. There’s a newer technology: video detection cameras that usually get mounted on the mast arms or the luminaire mast arms that provide the same type of call to the traffic signal controller.

This request allocates a certain amount of funds to a specific model. We’re trying to be consistent with the equipment we install at our intersections for maintenance and integration into our traffic management center. We’re updating to have the same makes and models.

We’re trying to standardize what we’re installing at our intersections. Dr. Anjali Tapadia, Active Transportation Commissioner, asked if the traffic detectors also have bike sensors and if they will be calibrated to extend the crossing duration so that a bike can get through the intersection within the time limit.

Bise answered, “Yes. Video vehicle detection also detects bicycles. It would make the same call as a car to the traffic signal controller to change the phase. We do have signalized synchronization programs that we’re working with. Depending on the corridor or intersection, however, we must wait until we do an actual corridor retiming to implement that. Here in California, it is a requirement to implement to provide bike detection whenever we’re affecting a signalized intersection.”

Mayor Jung asked if it had gone before the Active Transportation Committee and was informed that it had not.

The item passed unanimously.

Point Common affordable housing project proposal

The project site is two and a half acres. The initial proposal was for 62 units. The project got refined and is now for 65 units and 108 parking spaces with 38 parking spaces with EV charging stations. The project site floor plans range from almost 600 square feet for the one-bedroom to 1100 square feet plus for the three-bedroom units. The CEQA analysis required an environmental review to mitigate negative declaration and found no significant impacts.

The project is ADA-compatible for wheelchair people. There’s been two Planning Commission meetings and three community meetings. The ordinance before the council is #3321 is an ordinance of the City Council of the city of Fullerton, CA, to approve the zoning amendment to change the zoning classification from manufacturing general to limited density multiple-family residential on a 2.50-acre parcel of land located at 1600 W Commonwealth Ave.

The item passed unanimously.

Council Majority votes No 4th of July celebration in 2023

The Council majority voted to wait until 2024 for the citywide July Fourth celebration. Fullerton Junior High School softball field is no longer an option as a location for fireworks due to new structures and solar panels being installed. Staff worked with the Fire Department and Pyro fireworks company to try and find a new site to accommodate a similar 4th of July fireworks show.

They were able to identify CalState Fullerton as the only location for a large aerial firework show. Staff also considered other options and even new event ideas, such as a drone show. Postponing has more opportunities for food and beverage vendors and kids’ entertainment options.

Moving into 2024 helps staff to have ample time that’s needed to actually plan the event. The total cost for the event is approximately $145,000 and includes public works, PD, and Fire personnel. The cost may double if held at Cal State. A motion to postpone was made and seconded.

Passed 3 to 2 (Zahra and Charles – Voted to have the 4th in 2023)

Update on JP23

The City Council will hear an update regarding downtown bar JP23 compliance at the Tues, April 18 meeting. An April 18, 2023 memorandum from Police Chief Robert Dunn and City Prosecutor Gregory Palmer addressed to the city council lays out the history and is available in the backup materials for item 19 on the April 18 agenda.

•Feb 1, 2022: Council issued a written decision overruling the decision of Police Chief Dunn’s denial of JP23’s live entertainment permit renewal application. The stipulations attached included ceasing entertainment at 11 pm from Sunday to Wed. and 12 am from Thurs. through Friday, limiting occupancy to 299, and review by the council of the permit set for Oct. 31, 2022.

•Sept 30, 2022: According to the memorandum, a letter from City Prosecutor Palmer to Jacob Poozhikala informed him of remaining issues needing to be resolved before the October meeting, including improvements made without permits or approvals, lighting that had not been installed on the west exterior of the building, new security plan had not been submitted, music being played after the time limit imposed (based on police reports). Mr. Poozhikala was also asked to clarify who the new owners were and if he still had a role in the business.

•October 6, 2022: In a response letter, Mr. Poozhikala’s attorney Jennifer Harris denied music was being played after hours and addressed other points. She said that the business licenses and property were in process of being transferred to a new owner, expected to be completed by early Nov. 2022.

•Nov 2, 2022: Council was notified of the change of ownership to Makaveli dTF, LLC dba Chakos Social. An entertainment permit application and new security, operations, and the floor plan were submitted by the new owner Luke Pathiyil. A written “Purchase of Business Agreement” was provided to the city by Mr. Pathiyil dated February 22, 2018. Mr. Poozhikala and Mr. Pathiyil executed it on July 1, 2022. The purchase price for all business equipment, inventory, records, files, trademarks, and names was zero dollars ($0.00). The sale will not close until the ABC licenses are transferred, the entertainment permit is approved, the extended patio is approved, the business licenses are approved, and the lease is signed. If conditions are not met, the selling agreement will be void. In the commercial sublease agreement signed on July 1, 2022, Mr. Poozhikala is the sub landlord, and Mr. Pathiyil is the subtenant. No term is mentioned.

•Feb 7, 2023: Police Chief Dunn and City Prosecutor Gregory Palmer met with Mr. Pathiyil at the Fullerton Police Department, where it was discovered Mr. Pathiyil is Mr. Poozhikala’s cousin and has a full-time work-at-home IT job for a company on the east coast. He has never operated a restaurant or bar and is being trained by Poozhikala. When the lease and all licenses are transferred, he will become the owner, but until then, Poozhikala remains the owner. According to the memorandum, the city believes that “Mr. Pathiyil is not a bona fide purchaser” and Mr. Poozhikala is responsible for a list of violations, including lack of permits and approvals, required lighting, and amplified music played after agreed-upon hours.

Agenda for April 18 City Council

Item 19 is an update on the JP23 (restaurant at Commonwealth and Harbor) situation. This item is an update, and no action is called for.

Item 20 is on road maintenance and rehab for 2023-24, made possible by SB1 (Item #9 on the Consent Calendar also deals with street repairs). SB1 funds are about $3.5 million. In addition, there are OCTA M-2 funds. The biggest project is State College from Yorba Linda north to the city line, with smaller projects throughout the city. Although the presence of bicycle routes is supposed to be a factor in determining priorities, the Active Transportation Committee was not consulted about these projects, and few involve bicycle routes.

Item 21 is to approve an update to the Community Forest Master Plan (CFMP). The agenda item is to approve the plan and plant 500 trees this year. The CFMP was last updated in 1998. The document is 173 pages, some of it boilerplate, but well worth looking at if this is your interest. The powerpoint presentation and summary basically say nothing. More info on all of the above, including the complete CFMP, can be found here: