The Downtown Report
Has this happened to you? One room in your house gets painted, and suddenly, all the others look old and tired, so you keep painting room after room. Now the carpet looks bad, too, and out it goes. Much renovation work was done in Downtown Fullerton in the 90s to comply with earthquake standards –or else- and many building owners also painted, put new windows in, signage, etc., that it became apparent there was one more area that needed a paint job too, and then some. It was not vintage and cool; it was old and tired.
City Redevelopment Director Rob Zur Schmiede and Hugh Berry, who had good relations with the utility companies serving Fullerton, managed to transform West Santa Fe and the alley just north of it by undergrounding and upgrading the utilities, repaving and installing better lighting, thereby bringing that long ignored part of downtown into the new century.
Many businesses that were there for decades also upgraded their properties. That stretch south of Commonwealth was now ready to join the Renaissance of Downtown Fullerton. Work continues to this day on some buildings, as seen in the photo above.
Terry Galvin, still with City Redevelopment at the time, recalls the Redevelopment project to revitalize the area was supported by property owners there. “Heroes was looking to move to a larger facility. Ellingson owned two properties, and Walt Johnson owned three. They and other adjacent owners agreed to use seismic and rehab loans provided by the Redevelopment Agency to upgrade their properties. Existing buildings were restored and occupied with retail uses, several as restaurants. SoCo has been a successful investment partnership between the city and the property owners.”
A while back, a few interested parties attempted to start a new community garden, but the empty lots that were found were not available. There are many reasons for that, but they could also be of great benefit. Social media is full of local gardeners proudly showing off photos of their produce, yet many others don’t have space in their homes to grow anything. LA County has more than one hundred community gardens, so what’s happening here?
Pathways of Hope started one, in 2020 near Richman Park. A few local churches have them. Fullerton Arboretum has long had a limited number of 15′ by 15′ plots, available on a first-come, first-served basis, and others have sprung up along our many hiking trails.
We were tipped off about a community garden near the above Playspace on East Truslow and Lawrence, taking advantage of usable space nearby. In our next issue, we will follow up, get them all together for a photo, and learn more about how they are making this happen. They have discovered that it’s possible to grow a lot of produce even in small, unused plots of land here and there.
Downtown’s citrus processing plant, known as the Donald Duck juice plant by locals, was owned by World Citrus. They processed fruit shipped in from Florida, quite a change from the glory days of Fullerton citrus agriculture. It was the last processing plant in Orange County, closed in 2006 and later razed.
Why no local oranges? Because most people living here then and now, of course, live on land that was part of those huge tracts of orange groves. We yearn for the good old days, yet we need housing, and the profits from citrus were down since there were so many growers. On another note, our last packing house was run by the Eadington Fruit Company, which closed in 1996.
A parking structure for over 814 vehicles replaced Donald Duck, along with residential units and retail on the west side of the huge Santa Fe lot. Parking was free, and retailers, restaurants, repair shops, auto-related businesses, and many others benefited from the addition of parking. The transportation center could now provide overnight parking for travelers by issuing 3-day permits, as the structure is a short walk across the bridge over Harbor Blvd. By the way, three hours of parking is still free, except Thursday-Saturday from 9 pm-1 am, when it’s a flat rate of $5.
Friendliness is Fashionable in Fullerton
Discovered recently, ‘Fullerton Notes,’ apparently designed to promote Fullerton. Wondering what year or decade was this? There are clues, like only 12,000 population, orchards completely surrounding the city, 25 miles from Los Angeles- on U.S. Highway No. 101. That’s right, 101, which had many names: “El Camino Real, Spadra Road, Harbor Blvd,” and Santa Fe are public recreation grounds for adults. High numbers for agriculture, wow. What’s your guess?
Send answer to Mike at AllMedia@sbcglobal.net
This time: Where can this be found?
Last time: Nobody got the clue- the “garden” referred to was the Thursday beer garden in the courtyard outside the Museum Center. That’s where friendships take root. Although the last full Thursday Market of the season took place on September 3, the fund-raising beer garden, live music, snacks, and vendors will continue every Thursday from 4 to 8:30 p.m. through November 2. Coming up, Day in Fullerton, A FREE Celebration of the Arts on Sunday, October 1, from noon to 4 pm. The Winter Market will be held on December 2. Look for more October info right here next time, as Spooky Movies take over FMC.