Local Government

City Council Notes: July 18 Meeting Report

Firefighters, EMTs, Nurse, and FPD Officers were given an award at the council meeting on July 18, 2023. Pictured from left to right in council chambers: Fire Chief Adam Loeser, CHOC MICU Amanda Terry, FFD Engineer/PM Sean Nicolini, FF Jeet Mayadas, Falck EMTs Brockton Troutman and Jared Barboza, FPD Corporal Victoria Chandler, FPD Chief Bob Dunn, and Mayor Fred Jung. Not able to attend were: FFD Capt./PM Dan Lancaster, FF Noah Grinstead, and FPD Kevin Kirkreit.

Recognition Awards

“We are here for a very positive situation and want to take a moment just to recognize the team of professionals that on May 15th saved a two-month-old baby boy who had stopped breathing. Responding to a baby not breathing is one of the most emotionally stressful calls any first responder can receive. Still, this team made this a positive outcome.” said Fire Cheif Adam Loeser as he shared the whole story and proudly recognized several EMTs, police officers, and firefighters with a certificate from the city.

Public Comments

• “How residents can give to the people who serve the community, like the EMTs awarded today,” Maureen Milton asked.

• Todd Harrison also thanked the fire department and stressed the importance of keeping the mobile home parks.

• A resident said he was arrested for trespassing while attending church. He accused the Fullerton Police of racism.

• Anjali Tapadia shared a petition with 163 people in favor of the Associated Road lane reduction. She expressed her dissatisfaction that it was tabled.

• Susan Patrella was outraged by the tree trimming in Fullerton by West Coast Arborists. She said that the tree canopy is being destroyed, and there is now a lack of shade in District 5.

• ZJ Hahn accused Councilmember Dunlap of voting on an appointee when he did not have enough information. He also said there is a lack of sidewalks on Page St in front of Orangethorpe Elementary School. Parents must walk with their children in the street to get to and from school.

• Kayla Sato from OC Environmental Justice said that housing is a human right and agrees with Curtis Gamble, who said we should treat our unhoused with respect and care. An unhoused person noted that there was some illegal dumping by private corporations. It was somewhere by Yorba Linda Blvd. There is sewage coming out of the faucets, and I wanted someone to look into that.

Response to public comments

City manager Eric Levitt addressed the comment on tree trimming by Susan Patrella and explained that he regularly received backlash from people who think there is too much or not enough tree trimming. However, he will look at the specific streets mentioned in the comment.

Councilmember Nick Dunlap responds to the public comment about the appointee vote. He clarified that he received packets of resumes from interested parties over a month before the vote. He also added that local newspapers do not have facts. The Fullerton Observer reported on the June 20th City Council Meeting that “Dunlap, who found the email as the vote was called, looked at the resume very briefly and then voted to approve.” The video can be watched anytime on the city website under meetings and agendas. https://fullerton.granicus.com/player/clip/1706?view_id=2&redirect=true&h=18d80b98a961df4e398913bfb0786225

District Representatives Report

Councilmember Dr. Ahmad Zahra: Celebrated the 4.5 million dollars received for the Fullerton Museum from state funding. He thanked Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva for $1 million and Senator Josh Newman for $3.5 million. Zahra also encouraged everyone to visit the Women’s Festival at the museum on July 22nd.

Councilmember Dr. Shana Charles: Cautioned residents to stay hydrated and recommended checking on older people during this heatwave. She shared that the budget for the upcoming fiscal year was voted on during the OCPA board meeting at the end of June. Charles encouraged residents to look into this information since it is public. She said OCPA has a financially stable and robust reserve. “Rates are set low, saving 2% over SCE,” Charles explained, “Even with reconsideration, Fullerton, Buena Park, and Irvine are a strong trio.” Charles also celebrated her first community meeting at Chapman Park and her first monthly District 3 newsletter being sent out. To receive newsletters, you can email shana.charles@cityoffullerton.com. She also invites residents to her office hours on Thursdays from 12 pm to 2 pm.

Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Whitaker: The council appointed Whitaker to the Santa Ana River Flood Protection Agency (SARPA). He and other officials went on an inspection tour of the Prado Dam, where many improvements have been made recently. After the heavy rainy season, atmospheric rivers were a concern. Significant improvements have been made in the outflow area from the dam where the dam operator controls the releases. “The dam is a very large area, a kind of serpentine, which leads from the dam to the Green River golf course where the concrete bottom of this channel ends,” said Whitaker. The capability of the dam has been increased to handle up to 30,000 cubic feet per second (cu ft/s). It is now very close to completion. Due to the changes to the spillway, the mural at the Prado Dam will not last more than five years. The improvements will increase the height of the sides of the spillway and narrow the spillway. “Anyone who hasn’t had a close-up look at either Prado Dam or the mural should see them,” said Whitaker, “You can do environmental tours in that area this time of year and get a close look at the dam. They do plan on restoring the mural after this rebuild.”

Mayor Fred Jung Thanked congressional representatives for their $2.5 million earmarks for the necessary upgrades to our aging Police Department facility, which used to be our City Hall. The $2.5 million was raised by Congressmembers Michelle Park Steel and Lou Correa. An additional $1,000,000 for a water well was awarded by Lou Correa.

Police Social Worker Pilot Program

OC Supervisor Doug Chaffee presented the proposal for a two-year pilot program where the Fullerton Police Department employs social workers. It aims to better police response time, help people without homes, and respond to mental health crises. It also seeks to decrease the number of civil lawsuits and improve relations between the police and the public. Social workers can also help police officers who experience difficult situations while working in the field. The program will cost one million dollars and includes getting less intimidating police vehicles for the social workers. It was approved unanimously.

CalCities Conference

CalCities Conference helps cities expand and protect local control through education and advocacy to enhance the quality of life for all Californians. It also serves as a technical and advisory resource to CalCities through its policy committee representatives. The council voted on a voting delegate for the annual CalCities Conference in Sacramento. Councilmember Charles nominated Councilmember Zahra as a delegate. Councilmember Dunlap and Mayor Jung voted against it, while Councilmember Zahra, Councilmember Charles, and Mayor Pro Tem Whitaker voted for it. Passed 3-2, Councilmember Dr. Ahmad Zahra is the elected delegate.

Tentative Agreements for FMEF and FMA

The Fullerton Municipal Employee Federation (FMEF) represents 261 budgeted positions, includes non-sworn classifications, and all city departments are the city’s largest labor group. The Fullerton Management Association is the management group representing 68 positions and includes non-sworn and mid-management positions in most city departments. Agreements for both groups expired right before July 1st.

The city has agreed on a four-year term from fiscal year 23/24 through fiscal year 26/27. Significant points are an 8% salary increase effective July 22nd, 2023, and 4% and 3% each year after. There is a provision for a small stipend for having a commercial driver’s license Class A or B, a retention pay program for the term of this agreement of a $3000 compensation for 15 years of service, and a $4500 stipend for 20 years of service.

The city is eliminating overtime and the city’s current practice of picking up the employees’ member contribution towards CalPERS and then offsetting that by reducing the cost-sharing formed by the employees. Effective January 1st, the city is contributing an additional $300 towards the city’s health insurance contribution in the form of flex credits. It has developed a cost-sharing arrangement based on Kaiser rates for years going forward—additional changes to consider are a move to the CalPERS health insurance program. There’s an agreement on recruitment and retention. Leadership is looking for ways to improve our recruitment processes and has developed a more formal mechanism for looking at possible out-of-class situations.

The Fullerton Management Assoc. (FMA) agreement is similar to the FMEF agreement, with additional provisions for management staff who have to work selected special events to be able to receive some overtime pay, such as First Night and Fourth of July. FMA also has a retention pay provision that is slightly different. They have a 10-year increment of $2500, a 15-year increment of $3000, and a 20-year increment of $4000. FMA is looking to eliminate the employer-paid member contribution and offset that by removing the cost share and improving the health insurance program in the same manner as with FMEF.

FMA has introduced a provision allowing a retiree to receive a reimbursement for medical up to a certain amount for medical expenses if they move out of state and purchase a medical plan out of state. FMA has a $100 increase to retiree medical for employees that retired with specific criteria such as years of service and dates of retirement—retaining the option to reopen on the CalPERS issue. Staff recommends that we approve the resolutions.

Passed 3 to 2 (Charles, Jung, and Zahra Yes) (Whitaker and Dunlap No)

Minor site plan at 245 N State College Blvd

Planning Manager Chris Schaefer presented the proposal at 245 N State College, which is a proposal for a multifamily project. The proposed project involves the construction of 25 townhomes over one level of underground garage parking. There would be four 3-bedroom units, 8 three bedrooms plus a private roof deck, and 13 two-bedroom units with private outdoor terraces.

This project utilizes the state-allowed density bonus that includes 15% of the total units reserved as deed-restricted rentals to very low-income individuals or households because the project would provide these three units. They were entitled to three concessions, including a reduction of common open space, a reduction in building separation standards, and an increase in building height by 1 foot. They could reduce the parking standards, but they have met the city standards, which is 56 spaces.

The landscaping plan provides at least ten mature trees and some smaller trees scattered throughout the property. Staff recommended that the City Council approve the resolution denying the appeal and upholding the Planning Commission approval.

An appeal was made by the adjacent neighborhood and brought before the city council. Concerns were raised about trash pick-up, fire safety, private owners who could modify the property, and adding more cars to an already dangerous driving area.

Kara Block with DFH Architects said, “There is a fire department connection along the State College Blvd at the front of the building, and there is a standpipe in the rear of the building on the stairway that accesses both the garage and the upper level and provides coverage.”

There were several residents in favor of the project with suggestions. Maureen Milton said the project looks like another Entrada waiting to happen. (thousands of people displaced after a fire).

A vote to deny the appeal passed 4 to 1 (Whitaker No).

What is on the August 1st Agenda examined

Item #16: The Pines at Sunrise Village Development. Another step by the City is to establish a Mello-Roos district. #17: Pointe Common Development (1600 West Commonwealth). More steps in the process to turn over a 2.75-acre slice of “surplus” City land to a developer in exchange for building 65 affordable housing units.

Item #18: A motion to modify the General Plan to add two dwellings to the Historic Preservation Element (444 W. Malvern and 125 West Elm).

Item #19: More historic property. Minor revisions to an agreement with a homeowner concerning improvements at 333 West Whiting.

Item #20: Pedestrian Crossing at Chapman (and wall) at Hart Place. Hart Place is just east of the main PO. South (and north) of Chapman, Hart Place is a cul-de-sac with a wall and a passageway separating it from Chapman. There is a marked crosswalk here that staff recommended removing last year (it is currently unsafe as designed). As a result of the staff’s suggestion, nine residents of Hart Place (there are 12 houses in the block south of Chapman) sent a letter to the Council supporting the removal of the crosswalk and, in addition closing the opening in the privately owned wall (opening belongs to the City). Their reasons are “a lot of transient and loitering foot traffic,” resulting in littering, “attempted burglaries,” etc. No numbers or ideas of how this compares to other streets in the area are given. The street is the most direct route to the PO and surrounding businesses for residents, and the street immediately to the south has some multi-family buildings. A more critical issue (and the reason for my lengthy discussion) is that this cul-de-sac/wall opening/crosswalk is on the Bicycle Master Plan as a key link from the depot to the University using the Wilshire Bike Blvrd and lightly trafficked Victoria and the northern segment of Hart (a traffic signal would be required). Because it threatens the integrity of the Bike Plan, this proposal was voted down by the Active Transportation Committee (October 9, 2022) and the City Council (November 1, 2022). What has changed and why this is back before the Council is unexplained. The only comment is that the staff has received “multiple inquiries” since November.

Item #21: Appeal of a housing improvement loan denial. There are too many liens on the property, and the applicant has too many resources.

Item #22: RV parking. The City is trying to redefine its definition of “RV” to comply with a judge’s finding that the current definition is too vague. Item contains both “urgency” and “non-urgency” ordinances. The first would go into effect immediately.

Item #23. Proposes a pilot program with Edison to convert street lights. The City has 3000 high voltage series lights, which have become increasingly hard to maintain and replace. Edison proposes replacing 37 around Commonwealth School with LED lights at no cost to the City. Edison would own the poles and lights etc. Connections would be overhead. There is also a future cost savings to the City. Details are sketchy. What is the downside? Why does Edison want to do this? Not straightforward; other than that, the LEDS would use less electricity.