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City Council Notes October 03, 2023 Meeting


The World Korean Business Convention

Director of Economic Development Sue Thomas announced that the World Korean Business Convention (WKBC) will be hosted at the Anaheim Convention Center from October 11th to the 14th.

This conference is unique to the US, let alone the region, as this is the first time the Korean Alliance is holding their event outside South Korea. In their 21st year, they wanted to take it abroad for the first time to the US. The Korean Chamber of Commerce won the bid for the Convention to be held here in Orange County. The open bid to host the WKBC was competed for nationally. Neighboring cities Garden Grove, Orange, Anaheim, and others will host a breakfast.

Fullerton will do marketing materials, host a tour of Fullerton, and be a part of the pavilion of networking and learning what type of industries there are that could be a good fit for Fullerton. In terms of budget, the Economic Development Fund spent around $11,000.

Artificial Intelligence

MJ Noor, founder of the Parents’ Voice USA, said, “Every year, we host an event to promote education in the city. I consider the city of Fullerton as an educational city. I’m here today to tell you that we are putting on an extraordinary event on artificial intelligence related to education. What are we doing about it? How will it be implemented in schools? How far is the advancement?”

The event will be on October 20 at Fullerton College in building 200 on the second floor. The panel will be a superintendent of schools, the Engineering Dean from Fullerton College, a UCI professor with a computer science and education background, and a Ph.D. graduate from Carnegie Mellon with an undergraduate computer degree from Caltech. The panel will answer questions on Friday, October 20, a VIP reception at 5 pm: VIP reception and 6 pm the event.

Public Comments

Resident Todd Harrison thanked the Fullerton Police Department for helping to combat thieves at Rancho La Paz mobile home park. He also raised concerns about the dangers of Lemon and Valencia.

Yolanda Harrison seconded the concerns about the dangerous intersection and commented on the inaccessibility of the last city council meeting since the website and Zoom were down. She argued that the city should ensure access to these events.

Maureen Milton explained that she delivered instructions to staff for the city to follow flag protocol better. Chris, a fire engineer with the Fullerton Fire Department, invited the public to the annual Fill-the-Boot fundraiser for cancer research on October 14th from 9am to noon on Harbor and Orangethorpe.

Public Comments about Union Pacific Trail

Council Chambers were full. Two-thirds of the audience were there to urge the council majority to reverse its decision to send back the $1.78 million grant and use the money as intended – to build Phase 2 of the long-planned greenspace walking and bike trail connecting Union Pacific Park on Truslow near downtown to Independence Park on W. Valencia. Below are the comments made by people from all districts in Fullerton who spoke about the trail, with many speaking at a council meeting for the first time. No one spoke in opposition.

Diani: “I am here so that the $1.7 million grant for Union Pacific Trail be accepted. My question for the three council members who are against it is, ‘What is the reason for you guys not wanting to approve the grant?’ I need an answer. You have abandoned South Fullerton, and the governor has already approved the trail. We are asking about for our families.

This trail is alongside Independence Park, which has already seen the removal of four enormous trees. We also have the pool for the FAST swim team, and by having the trail, we could have more people participating in that. The trail will also help with global warming and help people without air conditioning. Please reconsider and approve – it is for all of Fullerton, not just South Fullerton. Even those from other cities will come. It would also benefit the businesses here when people come to visit. I also want to speak about how abandoned South Fullerton is. If you go to Independence, you will see a lack of bathrooms, water, and lots of trash, and no one is working there. If you go to the parks in the north, you see they are well-kept, and people are working to keep them nice. I commend you for that, but we want the same attention to our parks in South Fullerton. We are one city – not five, four, three, or two cities – we are one city.”

Molly Chapman: “I didn’t plan on speaking tonight, but I read in the paper that this was happening. I am a person who chose to live in Fullerton because of our green space, parks, and accessibility. I also know that other cities like Brea, next door, also had an abandoned railway, which they turned into a trail. To me, it just does not make sense that this grant money is being turned away.

Understandably, it will need upkeep once it is done, but at the same time, we all know that parks benefit cities, and I also find it kind of ironic that it wasn’t that long ago that I attended an opening of the Coyote Hills. We fought very hard to keep that open space and Mayor Jung, you were there for that. I don’t remember you ever really hiking on the trails before or seeing you during our fundraising, but you were there to take thanks for being part of it. I find it ironic you were there promoting open space in that district but not promoting open space in a district that desperately needs it.

She read a Greek proverb: “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.” I hope you will listen, especially to the nearby residents who have told you they want it. I guess if you don’t listen, we can take it to the ballot like we did Coyote Hills.”

Maria Ramirez: “I went walking on the trail, and it is a sad place – and I considered what could be done to make it a nice place for our children and grandchildren by planting trees, landscaping, and pathways they could walk and bicycle on. I see no reason to return the grant when we could create a nice green space.”

Secora Mendosa: “We don’t want the grant to be returned, and we want the trail to be revitalized and become a green, beautiful space for families to enjoy each other’s company.”

Monica Moran: “I am very proud of the residents, for some it’s the first time they have spoken before council. The reason we are here is about the grant. You seem to think we do not deserve the grant; trees provide clean air and water, reduce stress, and positively affect climate change. It is fair for this grant to be used for phase II of the trail, and it should be used for that purpose. We will continue here because we need to work together.”

Pat Shady: An 80-year-old resident who said she watched the city grow from 13,000 residents to 130,000 today said, “I live in the Friendly Hills part of Fullerton, and we have walking, bike, and horse trails all encompassed as a single type of trail. And everyone respects it. It’s all dirt, no lighting, no restrooms, no water fountains, no police patrol – it’s just a trail, and we all feel safe. The type of trail requested here mirrors what we have, which was also built on the old train tracks. District 5 people have very little park, that has been totally neglected – shame on us – all of us. We should have spoken up on their behalf long ago. Anyway, they deserve to have the same amenities that everyone else has. This grant was on the agenda in 2012, reintroduced in 2020, and approved wholeheartedly by the council, and now the 2023 council is saying no. Saying if we can’t use it for opening the park – then give it back? That’s like Santa Claus taking instead of delivering gifts. It’s not fair.”

James Dunsmore: “I agree with the other residents who have spoken so eloquently on the issue of Union Pacific Trail. Returning the grant may negatively impact the city’s ability to get grants for any other needs in the city. There is an item on tonight’s agenda about a grant for the complete streets and boulevard – it’s an important project. It is hard for the city to ask for a grant when we return one we won unused. The fiscally responsible thing is to use the grant for its intended purpose.”

Isabel Flores: “It is necessary to keep the grant to better our lives and health, and I don’t think it’s fair to return it.”

Juliana Nuncci: “I am here to advocate for the Union Pacific Trail. We residents have the right to a trail and green space. This trail will bring 176 trees, reducing pollution in our neighborhood. As the future generation, we respectfully ask you to keep the $1.7 million grant and build the trail.”

Egleth Nunnci: “I request that the $1.7 million grant to the Fullerton community be respected. I was part of a panel that spoke to representatives in Sacramento in the request of this grant money – and the reason the grant was awarded is that it is necessary for this area, which is overpopulated and overdeveloped. We don’t have enough green spaces for everybody. I would like you to listen to us here in the council chambers. We will request that from the council members, the county, and the state, and – if we have to – request to the president of the United States, we will do that. We request our right to breathe fresh air purified by the trees. We all need green space – we should all be united in this – it is for everyone in the city. We will continue to come and ask why this grant hasn’t been used in an intelligent manner. We fought so hard to get this grant. Not using it wastes the time of the city workers and the residents here fighting for this grant. We are asking that you please let us be heard – this is for the community. I would like to thank all the leaders and residents who have come in support and invite anyone listening online to come and have their voices heard because we are one city, and this represents our whole community.

Anjali Tapadia: “I think it is a wonderful project and I want to register my support. I think many people in the city share my confusion and lack of understanding of the city council’s decision not to proceed with the trail. The grant money can’t be applied to another project because of the stipulations, so, effectively, the grant will be returned to the state. The reasons provided by city council members opposing the trail did not seem to hold water. From where I stand, the community wants the trail; the trail project will help provide green space for the community, it will provide outdoor space, and it will give families a place to go that they don’t currently have to simply be in nature and feel safe. So, I don’t really understand why the council majority doesn’t support it. I would really appreciate it if you would listen to the community and support this project.”

Saskia Kennedy: “I live in District 2, and I support the trail. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t use the grant for its intended purpose. The trail has been in the plans for a long time, and as far as I know, we don’t have plans to change the plan – it’s been in place since 2012, I believe. It seems like a no-brainer to use the grant to pay for this portion of the plan. Phase 1 is already done – this is Phase 2, and then we will use other grants for Phase 3 and 4. So it doesn’t make sense to send the grant back or divert it somewhere else – which I don’t think you can do.”

ZJ Hahn: “Put public notices in the only newspaper I and my neighbors read, the Fullerton Observer.” “It’s not the whole council. It’s just three council members who have voted against the natural landscape and 176 new trees. They’ve voted against a community exercise space and a $1.78 million grant. I’m not confused – someone said they were confused about why you voted no. I’ve been in business long enough to know that money talks and BS walks. With morals, values, and ethics, be honest, you three – if your campaign donor has property on one or both sides of the Union Pacific Trail just say so. One of the reasons given was the maintenance fee – we have Love Fullerton – and I will pledge to help maintain the trail every year as I am sure many here tonight will do the same.” He went on to talk about bringing additional revenue to the city through an Auto Mall. “Even a small one would bring in $5.2 million annually and help pay for our streets and sidewalks.” He added that sidewalks are needed on Paige St for kids walking to school.

Karen Lloreda: “I really appreciate all the people who have stood up tonight to ask you, politely, to reconsider your vote. I will not be that polite. I support courtesy in public speech, but it should never get in the way of plain speech. Is it a coincidence that the three council members voting against this project, for the community, against using a grant award that would pay for it, are the same three who share a major campaign donor? And does that donor own property in that area? And does that donor have ideas that perhaps he would like to implement in the area? I am here reporting a lack of transparency in local government, and shame on you.”

Diane Vena: “Again, I am asking you to reconsider your decision and use the California Urban Greening Grant that Fullerton received to put nature back into a densely developed area by building the Union Pacific Trail. One of you stated that it was not by design that north Fullerton has most of the trails; however, your decision is by design, denying the building of this trail in the middle of a densely developed and populated area where one is desperately needed. You have the opportunity to make something beautiful that a majority of people have told you they need. Whittier did it with its Greenway Trail, which replaced a blighted, abandoned railway corridor with a scenic bikeway and pedestrian path that, according to its website, has an impressively positive impact on the community by promoting alternative transportation, outdoor fitness, and education.

Residents appreciate the safe space to walk or ride bikes with their families and pets. The trail has been recognized with awards for its design, operation, and community benefits. Whittier City Council was delighted to accept the awards for the trail land, which was purchased with regional and state funds, leaving limited city funds to be used on other community priorities. You have the exact same opportunity to do the same for Fullerton – to create something beautiful that our city and residents need. Please do it – we all need nature.”

Helen Higgins: “In support of strategies to reduce the effects of climate change and to reduce the inequity between parks in South Fullerton, I advocate for both parks and trails.” She quoted the results of a university study on Urban Heat Islands, which produce higher temperatures in cities with fewer trees. “It disturbed me greatly that our city would give up a grant that would provide for at least 176 trees that would be planted along the trail. This is quite a regressive action by a city claiming the title of Tree City.”

City Council Comments

City Manager Eric Levitt said that there will be another safety assessment done for Lemon and Valencia.

Councilmember Dr. Shana Charles invited the public to her office hours on Thursdays from 12 pm-2 pm and congratulated staff for a wonderful Day in Fullerton event.

Councilmember Dr. Ahmad Zahra also commented on the great event and shared his experience at the CalCities conference with Eric Levitt. He shared that he had met with the Maple Elementary School principal, the city engineer, and the police department about Lemon and Valencia and getting feedback from residents. He commented on the lack of engagement and posting on the city’s social media and called for a boost in community engagement from the city. He also asked City Attorney Richard Jones to review the new state law SB1439 known as the Levine Act.

The City Attorney said that the new state law requires official to recuse themself from a vote if they received a donation more than $250 that would create bias. Zahra explained that a councilmember had received $1500 from Falc Mobile Ambulance, three months after which they voted yes to extend the contract. He asked if the new State law terminates that contract decision. The City Attorney explained that the council would have to redeliberate on the contract. He also explained that contributions before January are valid, but contributions after January 1st would mean that the official has to recuse themself from related votes for twelve months.

Mayor Jung asked if Zahra had someone specific in mind when asking about the Levine Act.

Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Whitaker updated the Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) that will help conserve water safely through stormwater capture.

Councilmember Nicholas Dunlap was absent.

Provecho Market Gas Station Appeal

Provecho Market on 312 N Euclid Street is looking to build a gas station. They qualify for two CEQA exemptions.

An appellant spoke against the building of the gas station on behalf of other residents for safety and environmental concerns.

Councilmember Dr. Shana Charles asked what is on the other side of West Chapman, the street where the gas delivery trucks would leave. Dr. Charles received clarification that there were residential properties there and that it is a smaller street without dividers.

The appellant asked Mayor Jung if he could participate without bias and explained that Jung seemed to favor the applicant. The appellant also thanked city staff, especially Taylor and Nick on the second floor, and Ralph Kim, the owner of Provecho Market and the applicant, for bringing business to the plaza. The appellant argued that the Mutual Parking agreement was expired and that the gas station encroaches upon neighboring property owners. He also explained that traffic is already a big problem on that stretch of Euclid and will get more dangerous due to the lack of line of sight.

Ralph Kim, the applicant, explained that the truck will only come at night and that while he owns 75% of the parking lot, he pays for the maintenance and lighting of all of it. Kim also shared that the market is in survival mode and that the gas station is vital to help everyone keep their jobs.

The public comments overwhelmingly supported the appellant (against the mass station), many of the comenters being residents in the neighborhood of Provecho Market. While some argued that many people are turning to electric cars, most commenters argued for safety, traffic, and the price of their homes.

Ralph Kim explained that the cigarette and donut shop owners support the gas station because they think it will help businesses. He also argued that the gas station will be much smaller than others, explaining that they will not offer diesel. Kim said he would like to work with the public and would be willing to move the gas station, adding that he has lived in Fullerton for over 20 years and would like to see the city grow.

Councilmember Dr. Zahra asked if a gas station was in the original plan when starting the market, to which Kim explained that it was a backup plan. Dr. Zahra questioned if there was community outreach.

Stephen Bise, Public Works Director, answered that a notice was sent to a 300ft radius around the property for the first hearing.

Mayor Jung asked if this was Ralph Kim’s first experience with a grocery store. Kim answered that in 1990, his family had a California City Market in a small town, then Ontario Ranch Market in Ontario, and now Provecho Market in Fullerton and Santa Ana. Jung asked for clarification on Kim’s willingness to move the gas station, to which Kim answered that he was willing to work with the public. Jung then asked Public Works Director Stephen Bise if a traffic circulation study was done.

Director Bise answers that fire and traffic engineers have not found any concerns with their studies.

Dr. Charles asked for clarification on the CEQA exemptions since only one was listed, but now there were two. Director Bise explained that an environmental consultant looked at the CEQA exemptions; both are now listed. Dr. Charles also asked Bise about the expired parking agreement, to which Bise explained that the one they have on record is unexpired and valid. Charles sympathized with the public about worries over previous oil contaminations and asked if this was a problem with the gas station in discussion.

Director Bise explained that state and federal regulations have changed and are almost foolproof. Charles clarified that the liquor store already has delivery trucks that use Chapman, and Mr. Kim answered that they are of similar size to the gas trucks. Charles asked if there would always be an attendant at the gas station, to which Kim answered that there would.

Jung commented that it is unfortunate that his authenticity is being questioned since everyone is trying their best. Jung added that whether you agree or not, they must decide based on CEQA’s expertise.

Zahra argued that there is no CEQA study and that they shouldn’t decide solely based on code and exemptions of code.

Charles explained how to get things on public record by explaining that everything emailed is on public record. Charles also voiced support for going electric and stressed that “Little” Chapman is a small residential street. She explained that she thinks a compromise can be found but does not support the project as it exists now.

Mayor Jung motions to deny the appeal, and Mayor Pro Tem Whitaker seconds. Jung and Whitaker vote for the gas station. Councilmembers Charles and Zahra voted against the gas station. Since Councilmember Dunlap was absent, they motioned to continue the public hearing for two weeks when he was present. That motion passed unanimously.

Reorganization of Parks and Recreation Department

A proposed reorganization of the Parks and Recreation Department was brought to the council to add new full-time positions, including two full-time customer service positions. This motion passed unanimously. A proposed reorganization of the Administrative Services Department also passed unanimously.

Changes in Animal Keeping Rules

More people can have chickens now due to the minimum lot requirements has been reduced. The rules on potbelly pigs has changed due to complaints from residents. Councilmember Zahra asked if the complaints about potbelly pigs were included in the hearing. The staff answered that they did not have complaints. Zahra asked staff to simplify these changes to ensure they are accessible for residents. The motion unanimously passed.

Grant for Bicycle Mobility

The council must vote on accepting a Trans Active grant of $7.1 million for bicycle mobility. This grant aligns with the Fullerton Bike Connector plan and connects to the Cal State Fullerton bike plan. Mayor Jung asked if this impacts the Nutwood Bridge, and Director Bise answered that the bridge does not qualify for the grant. Anjali Tapadia supported the grant, and Jane Reifer stressed the importance of considering bus stops when planning. The motion passed unanimously.

President Avenue Zone Amendment

There was a hearing for a new historical site on President Ave. This designation does not bring any added taxes but does bring a higher level of review for future projects. There is overwhelming support from residents in the area. Ernie Kelsey, the president of Fullerton Heritage, explained that this neighborhood was built as World War 2 defense worker housing. Passing this motion would mean creating a preservation zone, but residents can still paint their homes and change certain things. All council members thanked everyone who worked on the project and shared appreciation for Fullerton’s history. The motion unanimously passed.