Mixed Use Zoning

To inform voters about my opposition to adding new Mixed-Use zoning that would streamline the approval process for more high-density infill development, below is my statement to the Planning Commission from July 27, 2016.

Most people don’t know what a city’s General Plan (GP)  is until they are trying to figure out how to stop a project they don’t want in their neighborhood. They learn that developers and the city planning staff will interpret the GP to justify the development they are trying to stop. This has been seen time and time again since the approval of the GP.

The density assumed in the GP is far too aggressive for what Fullerton residents can stomach.

When the GP was approved on May 1, 2012 by City Council  (of which the majority was recalled the following month) most residents did not anticipate the large number of massive, multi-block projects that would be built, are currently under construction, and are now being proposed. But people did recognize the potential for this kind of rampant overdevelopment when they saw what was proposed in the Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan (DCCSP) in 2014.

The DCCSP was scrapped by City Council in 2016 “due in part to concerns raised through the Public Hearing process” according to the city planning staff.  But those same concerns, traffic, noise, parking, depleted city resources, such as water, fire and police service, are still the same objections being heard today in opposition to projects coming forward under the planning tools devised to replace the failed DCCSP.

The PRD-I (Planned Residential Development-Infill) zoning slipped through Planning Commission and then City Council with no discussion. It appeared that the City Council didn’t even know what they were approving when they voted for PRD-I zoning based on their questions to staff about PRD-I zoning at the July 19, 2016 City Council Meeting at which PRD-I zoning was being used to support the Melia development.

Like PRD-I zoning, Mixed-Use (M-U) zoning is going to result in more high density projects being plopped into existing neighborhoods. And when the residents of those neighborhoods come before Planning Commission and City Council in an attempt to stop yet one more gargantuan multi-block project from being built near their homes, they are going to be presented with these cold hard facts:

  1. The GP housing element allows an enormous increase in population.
  2. The GP identified the focus areas where this increased population would be shoe-horned.
  3. The GP included a policy that enabled the council to give staff direction to create “zoning tools” to facilitate high density in-fill development.
  4. The zoning tools have been created and there isn’t a thing that can be done to stop that over-priced, multi-story, high-density, under-parked, traffic clogging project that is about to be built in your neighborhood.

Don’t approve M-U zoning tonight. Instead, revisit the GP to review the density and the focus areas and recommend that City Council ramp-down the overdevelopment of Fullerton.

Following the Public Hearing, the Planning Commission asked for a study session to learn more about where and how mixed-use zoning would be applied because they were concerned about a loss of commercial properties being rezoned to residential under M-U.