First before I talk about the 1st two agenda items on the June 21, 2016 council meeting, I must bring to your attention Item No. 2 under Closed Session. (Item No. 2 – Conference with Real Property Negotiator – Per Government Code Section 54956.8.) It lists two pieces of property. One property, Meridian Health Club is located at 1535 Deerpark Drive and the other property is located at 1747 West Commonwealth Ave near the Grace Ministries International Building. The parties besides the city are the Meridian Club and Grace Ministries International.
Why is the city once again in sole source negotiations on two pieces of property? In order to sell any parcel of property the best way to maximize its market value is to put it up for sale to the public at large. Similar to the comments by Joe Felz at a recent Library Board meeting, where he recommended we sell the Hunt Library to Grace Ministries with a sole source bid, here we have the same shenanigans by our city.
This is not in the best financial interest of the people of Fullerton. Would any council member or Mr. Felz enter into a sole source negotiation to sell their residence or would they put it on the open market to attract the best possible price. Yes, Mr. Felz or Ms. Fitzgerald can offer there home for a less than market price because it is their house. The properties in question are not owned by Mr. Felz or Ms. Fitzgerald but are owned by the people of Fullerton. It is the City Manager’s and the City Council’s fiduciary duty to maximize the sales price for any piece of city property. To do otherwise would be committing malfeasance in my opinion.
Both Mr. Imbriano and myself talked about this troubling situation. Mr. Imbriano asked that they agendize a change on how the city sells “excess” city property. Of course all five council members and our city manager ignored our pleas for fiscal and fiduciary sanity.
Then we go on to the main event, regular business and we have before us an “exclusive negotiating agreement with Pelican Community, Inc. for 12 months with 2 optional 45-day extensions to come up with a concept/basic designs for the Fox Block including a 200 space parking structure and an office building of unknown size and height. The particulars of the Fox Theatre including how much additional work is required and an estimated reopening date were not provided during the agenda item discussion. Leland Wilson, the President of the Fullerton Historic Theatre Foundation (FHTF) non-profit group spoke but provided no information on the status of the Fox Theatre Renovation. Ten years plus and counting and we hear about plans for a parking structure and a major new office building to be built next to the Fox Theatre only. Please go to the FHTF website at www.fullertonfox.org to see how little information there is about the status and future of the Fox Theatre in Fullerton.
There is one more point I need to make concerning this exclusive agreement. Mr. Hamm the owner of Pelican Properties, Inc. stated that he thought an office building should be a major part of his concept for the Fox Block. Yet at the Planning Committee meeting recently the city staff and some commissioners such as Larry Bennett where stating that the reason they want to change the zoning of the property on Bastanchury, formerly the Fullerton Internal Medicine Clinic to townhomes is because there is no demand for office space in Fullerton. So on the one hand the city argues to change zoning from office/medical space because of lack of demand for an office/medical building but a mile south on Harbor and Chapman, we entered into an exclusive arrangement with one developer to build us more office space. Either there is or is not demand for office space in Fullerton.
Council Agenda Item No. 2 is no better. City of Fullerton puts on the ballet the right to open up to 9 marijuana dispensaries along with the legalization of the commercial manufacture and distribution in our city. Of course the city wants this to make money as it requests a whopping 15% tax with the ability to raise it to 20%. It is not enough that a previous council has destroyed our once family oriented downtown with numerous bars and nightclubs that every weekend attracts thousands of people throughout Southern California including some undesirable types.
One city study estimated it costs the taxpayers a net 1 million dollars a year for this financial and social fiasco. I spoke of these past follies by our city government and asked them not to place this measure on our November ballet. Mayor Fitzgerald got cold feet and quickly made a motion to continue this item until after the election. The staff’s presentation ignored the health and moral concerns of making pot legally readily available in Fullerton. I suspect that Ms. Haluza was directed by her boss to ignore the moral and health implications of this issue. If that was the case, what does that tell you about our City Manager, Joe Felz?
There is another very important point that I must make concerning this agenda item. Question: If legalizing the sale and manufacture of marijuana in Fullerton is such a good idea, then why all the restrictions on both the placement and number of establishments? Why is it necessary to place a 15% tax on marijuana sales with the city option to raise it to 20%?
It seems that once again it is all about generating additional tax revenue to make up the huge shortfall created by our city council and their very generous raises to police 6% a year and fire 9% over two years. It is kind of funny/ironic to think that the city wanted to bring marijuana to Fullerton to help pay for the very generous police raises. These things can only happen in Fullerton. Question: Why did Joe Felz and Mayor Fitzgerald bring this very controversial and unnecessary agenda item forward at this time, if it had zero support? (The final vote was 5 to 0 to continue the item until after the November elections. I believe Mayor Fitzgerald had the authority to keep this from being on the agenda. Obviously, this was a trial balloon by Felz and Fitzgerald, which they originally hoped would pass but got cold feet when they saw the amount of opposition.
Fullerton City Hall needs a housecleaning in November.