Tag Archives: Overdevelopment

My Vision for Fullerton & What I hope to Accomplish – responses to NUFF

Below are some of my responses to the endorsement questionnaire for the local political action committee Neighbors United for Fullerton (NUFF PAC).

What is your vision for Fullerton?houseswwalker
I see Fullerton as a place where neighborhoods are respected and people are encouraged to participate in their community.
But there are many things on the current landscape that continue to interrupt the ability of our community to participate.
These are some egregious examples.
  • The inclusion of map 8a in the district elections ballot initiative ii disenfranchises voters on many levels.
  • The refusal by our City Council to overturn the West Coyote Hills Development Agreement and all other approvals as stated in the referendum is an affront to 61% of the voters in Fullerton who said “No” to development.
  • The continued threats of overdevelopment throughout the city without regard to the concerns expressed by the community, such as impacts from increased traffic and a lack of funding to provide infrastructure and safety resources long-term for the increasing population, are short-sighted and detrimental to our community.
As much as there are major challenges for the community, there are also many opportunities.
These and other problems can be resolved by electing leadership that includes, consults, and respects the community when making decisions. By increasing communications channels, ensuring adequate time to learn and discover different options, and having a City Council that knows who they are elected to serve, more Fullerton residents will participate, knowing that their input is valued by the City Council and integral to Fullerton to be the best it can be.
 What do you hope to accomplish?stopoverdevelopment
  • Resolve the overdevelopment battles that are recurring by revising the Fullerton Plan/General Plan (GP). It is apparent that the GP does not express the community’s vision in regards to new development
  • Preserve Coyote Hills as 100% open space.
  • Work with our Chief of Police to support and expand upon reform efforts
Fullerton’s Parks
We need to continue to maintain parks and provide adequate facilities for people to enjoy the parks. Our parks are more than just sports fields; they are places where community members gather.
I would like to see public facilities within our parks made more available to community members. Our park facilities should not be seen as a source of revenue. We need to lower the cost of using public buildings and community centers for residents to utilize.
Hillcrest Park’s trees are dying. We need to prioritize what makes a park a park – shade trees and green spaces where children can explore nature.
West Coyote Hills
The intent of Fullerton voters can be contorted by legal arguments (at the expense of Fullerton voters) under the direction of the current City Council to say our “NO” vote does not equate to no development.  But we know what we meant and the City Council should respect that.
I stand behind the will of Fullerton voters to preserve Coyote Hills as 100% open space.
Development Policies
We need to revise the General Plan and ensure policies reflect the needs and desires of Fullerton residents, rather than the goals of outside developers to maximize their profit today at the expense of Fullerton Residents tomorrow.
We need to revisit the new medium to low density infill zoning (PRD-I) that was recently approved by City Council and keep working on the proposed high density mixed-use zoning (M-U) to ensure neither can result in unintended consequences to our neighborhoods.
District Voting
I am an advocate for many reforms that would encourage greater voter participation in our City Council elections such as ranked choice voting, local campaign finance ordinances, or district elections.
Unfortunately, our opportunity to create new district elections was tainted by the self-interests of the current City Council who feared a loss of power under district elections. Their hostility to district elections has resulted in their unanimous support for a worst-case example of gerrymandering.
In the map selected by our City Council, the downtown neighborhoods are divided five ways to prevent downtown residents from being able to elect a representative of their choosing.
The cutout created in the northeast to protect an incumbent’s reelection in 2018 divides the active and cohesive Rolling Hills neighborhood into two districts. The Princeton Circle/Yale (sparkle balls hanging from the trees at Christmas time) neighborhood is cross-wise cut into two different districts. The voice of Asians within what-was-supposed-to-be an Asian majority Citizen Voting Age district was reduced to a plurality under 8a.
I encourage all Fullerton voters to vote NO on Measure II to protect the rights of Fullerton voters to elect City Council representatives of their choosing.
 “Surplus” Property, the Hunt Library, etc.
First of all, the Hunt Branch Library is not “surplus property!”  There was an emergency closure due to a large homeless population that has since been removed. Because the City Council does not have the will to fully fund the Hunt or even our main branch, the Hunt was leased to a church at a discounted rate.
Funding to the Hunt Branch Library should be restored and the Hunt should be reopened for the whole community.
This rare city asset is currently shuttered to all but the church membership under threat of arrest as posted in multiple locations on the property.
We need a careful vetting by the public of whether and how public owned properties should be sold-off. Each should be considered with the goal of maximizing the benefit to the residents.
trafficWe need to resolve our transportation challenges in this city. Traffic is a serious problem that cannot be ignored. It impacts each of us regardless of where we live in the city.
Downtown Fullerton has a drinking problem.
We need a council that will no longer turn a blind eye to the regular lawlessness that threatens the safety of residents and visitors and leaves behind an unpleasant environment for legitimate daytime businesses and their patrons.
Historic Preservation
Historic Fullerton is being chipped away project by project, decision by decision. We need to support our historic neighborhoods and preserve historic structures at every opportunity.
We need to restore the criteria for designating historic properties before we feel the detrimental effects of the City Council’s recent decision to add new burdensome hurdles.

The complete questionnaire and answers are available  here.

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.


To help voters understand my position on overdevelopment issues, I am including my comments to the City Council on July 19, 2016 regarding the plan to rezone 3.3 acres at Bastanchury and Morelia using the new Planned Residential Development – Infill (PRD-I) zoning tool that had been approved by City Council on May 3, 2016 (moved by Mayor Fitzgerald and seconded by Council Member Flory).

This process has been painful and clearly unsatisfactory for the neighborhood that will be most greatly impacted by this project:
  • from the insult of the original proposal for 40-some units on 3.3 acres abutting their R1:20 neighborhood,
  • to the measly reduction in density when instructed to do so previously by Planning Commission,
  • to the surprise project study session in which not even the key neighborhood activists were notified,
  • to the expectation that an out-of-town developer can tell Fullerton what their land use policy should be.
The City’s General Plan (AKA the Fullerton Plan) laid the groundwork for potential revitalization of this property as well as many other properties in focus areas throughout the city. But it did not guarantee the right for a developer to expect a rezone from commercial/office to residential at this site.
The PRD-I was approved at Planning Commission (PC) and by Council with no discussion. It was assumed to be innocuous. But we learned otherwise at the last PC meeting at which this project was approved.
At that meeting we learned that the PRD-I, which evolved from the failed DCCSP, was the zoning tool that streamlined the process and cleared the way for this developer to apply for approval of this project.
But the PRD-I doesn’t give the developer the right to a rezone any more than the General Plan does according to the city planning staff. Therefore, your decision tonight is fully at your discretion.

With your (City Council’s) hands untied by any preconceived expectations, what should guide your decision tonight?

  1. Is it your responsibility to maximize profits for an out of town developer or
  2. is it your responsibility to listen to the residents who find not only this process, but this plan to be unsatisfactory?
I recommend listening to your constituents and denying this project.
Send the developer back to the drawing board, the same as you did two years ago when developers brought the Laurel / Lark Ellen project before you asking for a rezone for a project that was too dense and inconsistent with their neighborhood.

Following the public hearing the City Council postponed their decision until the September 20, 2016 City Council Meeting.