City Council Rundown – 2022-12-06

I gave a rundown of this week’s City Council agenda so now here’s a followup letting you know how things proceeded.

Closed Session

Nothing was reported out of Closed Session so we don’t get to know what happened. That’s just how it works.

Consent Calendar

The Consent Calendar was approved, because it always is every time and only item #7, related to road repairs was pulled with one person giving public comments related to improvements for pedestrians and bicycles. This was somewhat interesting but pointless because the bid has already been approved without any such things addressed or required and in order to include any of the recommendations would require a new plan, a new bid and well, a whole new process with a whole new price. The project was approved as-is 5-0.

Regular Business

8. The issue of the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for 120 Fullerton, a bar located at 120 Wilshire, Unit A., was something I figured was a foregone conclusion as with the notable exception of JP23 the City Council always just rubber stamps these things.

There was a lot of heated back and forth on this item owing to the notion that Silva & Zahra wanted to approve the CUP and someday, somehow, maybe, possibly, perhaps one day get around to enforcing our municipal code and I even stepped out of line by walking up to the microphone a second time (you can only speak once during an item) and telling Council to stop staff from lying to them.

Ultimately the vote was 3-2 with Jung, Whitaker & Dunlap voting to deny the CUP and Silva & Zahra voting to approve it. Staff was so unprepared for this eventuality, because it almost never happens, that they claim to have to bring a new resolution back in two weeks to address the denial. That’ll be fun to hear.

9. The sale of Ellis Avenue off of Harbor Blvd for the purposes of “outdoor dining” was approved 5-0. Not a shock. This is one more step in a long line of steps to push the always doomed Fox Block project forward.

10. The “Boutique” Hotel. Due to legal issues surrounding the CA “Surplus Land” rules and how prior Councils so pooched this idea I was expecting this item to, like item #9 before it, be a done deal. I won’t go over the presentation because it’s all usually smoke and mirrors and almost no development delivers what they promise with 600 W. Commonwealth being the most offensive example of this in recent memory. Also a lot of this stuff changes during the planning phases.

The key issue as hand was the sale of the land, or the disposition.

This agenda item brought out the most people with quite a few public comments. New development is always one of the hottest button issues in any town and Fullerton is no exception. The comments ran the gamut from impacts to local businesses, affordable housing being a bigger priority, the sale price of the land, replacing parking and the Surplus Land Act.

A point of contention for the Council members in favor of the plan seemed to be the timeline for how long this item has taken to come to fruition and that the developer wants it to be a done deal now that they’ve found financing but the only reason it’s taken as long as it has (years) is owing to the developer asking for extensions to their exclusive deal. Staff almost always frames items in such a manner after cans get kicked down the road over and over and over again and then OMG Council Needs To Act Right Now. It was being sold as much needed economic development to help fund the City but this is a Council that tried to force through a sales tax and then backdoor the necessity of it by way of outsourcing Fullerton Fire. Zahra and Silva especially have never been responsible stewards of our budget so the idea that this is important for those reasons is somewhat disingenuous.

Beyond the timeline, the issue of the price being paid to the City for the property came up a few times. The initial appraisal was $2.3Million and after a soil analysis due to contamination it was somehow re-appraised at $2.375Million but the price being offered is $1.4Million. That’s a price cut of around $900,000 (despite Silva claiming $700,000) for soil remediation. Good work if you can get it I guess.

The contention for Jung, largely was that the City is selling 2 Acres of land in our Downtown corridor for below market rate. Whitaker had a weird rebuke here when he said that the Transit Occupancy Tax fees (hotel tax) over the first few years would cover any such losses but that only makes sense if the developer walks away from the table. If they paid market value and built their hotel, which is set to be a franchise chain mind you, the City would get a better rate AND the TOT funds. Dunlap wasn’t supportive because he doesn’t like exclusive no-bid deals and a lack of competition for City assets. Silva and Zahra wanted to approve the item.

All of that was largely pointless because Council needed a supermajority of 4/5 and there Zahra had some concern about proper notification of the public in regards to how the item was addressed.

So after some back and forth by Council, where laughably at one point Silva gave his farewell remarks before the issue was even decided and asked Jung to support some plan in the future that doesn’t exist yet, the Council voted 4-1 (Silva voting Nay) to bring the item back in two weeks. It’ll still need a 4/5 supermajority to pass at that time and public comments will likely be limited to those who didn’t give comments at this meeting.

That’s all that went down this week and they’ll be back in two weeks, 20 December, for more of the same only with Silva being replaced by Shana Charles who recently won the election for District 3.