A FEW THOUGHTS ON THE FULLERTON CITY COUNCIL MEETING ON JULY 19TH 2016.
1. At just before 11AM I went to the City of Fullerton website to open the video of the meeting. IT WAS NOT THERE. NOT ONLY WAS THE VIDEO NOT THERE, BUT THE AGENDA WAS NOT ON THE WEBSITE EITHER.
NORMALLY THE VIDEO IS UP AND RUNNING SHORTLY AFTER THE END OF THE MEETING. The agenda is normally online 72 hours before the meeting and should not be taken down immediately after the meeting.
Why is the video and the agenda missing from the website? The video is supposed to be a formal record of the meeting. There is no reason not to put it up right away. Why is it not posted almost 12 hours after the end of the meeting?
2. Approximately 40 to 50 people showed up in opposition to the Melia Homes agenda item that was asking for approval of a 32 home site (mainly townhomes) on 3.3 acres which would require a change in the zoning as well as an abandonment of a city easement free of charge. (Note: The city council is so so generous with the public’s property rights that it is willing to give away something of value to the developer for free.) The council after much public opposition continued it to the third week in September requesting that the developer make some minor changes adding a tot lot, removing any three story structures and reducing somewhat the number of total units. The vote was 4 to 1 with Sebourn the only no vote. For information purposes it was Mr. Sebourn’s appointee to the Planning Commission, Peter Gambino (who also just happens to be his brother-in-law), who stated that it was not the developers nor the city’s concern that this development might add to the already heavy traffic congestion around Laguna Road School. No one is saying that the developer is responsible for correcting an already existing traffic problem. But we are saying that the city should not vote to change the zoning of the property if it would exacerbate the problem. Also, while committee members talked about the dilapidated condition of the existing property, no responsibility was placed on the current landowner for allowing for the deteriation.
3. I was disappointed particularly in one of the comments made by the spokesman for Melia Homes. He repeated a statement made by a FSD board member, Ms. Sugarman, that there were openings for new students at Laguna Road. After the board member made that statement at a recent Planning Commission meeting, a teacher at Laguna Road School, a Ms. Fruchie (not sure of the spelling) stated that in fact except for kindgergarten, the school was at maximum capacity and has been turning down new students living in the neigborhood. Another person, I believe it was the Laguna Road PTA president who spoke earlier at the city council meeting and reiterated what the teacher had said earlier. The Melia Homes representative should be more careful before he makes statements that have previously been refuted by two people who have direct knowledge of the conditions at the school.
4. Mr. Curlee told the city council that he had learned that a group of dentists offered to buy at least part of the property in question to use as medical office space. This if true should have been disclosed by Melia Homes since it directly contradicts the developer’s contention that their is no interest in the property as medical office space.
5. I must say the council member who did the most damage to their political career yesterday hands down was Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald. The council can allow each speaker at a public hearing 5 minutes. It was requested to extend those few that needed more than three minutes an additional two minutes to speak. As there were 23 speakers signed up to speak, the additional time would have been negligible. But Mayor Fitzgerald’s true self shown brightly in her refusal to allow any additional time. The I Love Fullerton Mayor showed nothing but contempt for the people wishing to complete their thoughts if it extended over three minutes. In my opinion and I believe the opinion of many in the audience, the Mayor acted with meanness and arrogance toward those wishing to speak a little longer. She better collect a lot of special interest monies from the developers and the public employee unions because she will need every penny of it. She even told the crowd to stop clapping for the comments of one of the speakers against the Melia Homes development. Remember it was Mayor Fitzgerald a few short weeks ago, tried to get passed new restrictions on behavior at council meetings including the ability for city police to escort a audience member out for polite clapping. Finally, Mayor Fitzgerald failed as Mayor to speak to the issue of Melia Homes. I believe we the people deserved to know where she stood on this issue but she said nothing. I know we have a real drinking problem with all the bars and nightclubs now in Fullerton but we also have a Mayor drunk with her own power and self-importance.
The city does such a terrible job in doing the major things that a city is supposed to take care of…such as maintenance of our roads, sewers, water pipes, etc. They say they have no money to do more. But they recently passed raises for all city workers with the largest raises going to the police and fire (6% raise for police and a 9% raise for fireman over 2 years). For the police and fire alone these raises will cost the taxpayers millions of additional dollars every year going forward on top of an already 2.8 million dollar budget deficit. What does this prove Fullertonians? The city council has money for city employees but not for citizens of Fullerton. We are a middle to upper middle class neighborhood. We have housing that is more expensive than many of the cities that border our town. Yet our infrastructure is in much worse condition that any of our neighboring cities. We heard that the traffic situation around Laguna Road School is a school problem by our city council. It is also a city of Fullerton problem as well. Their willingness to ignore this city problem rather than working with the school district to solve them is just another indicator of how badly we are governed. For those who argue that the police and fire have not received “decent” raises for a few years, I have this to refute that statement. You see Fullertonians, the percentage of their base pay going to help cover the pension obligation for the city, i.e. from the taxpayers has gone up significantly over the last few years. I do not have the exact figures in front of me but I can tell all of you that going back about 5 years the percentage paid by the taxpayers was in the 30% range. Now it is at or above the 50% range and estimated in the near future to approach 60%. So even though their base pay raises were not substantial in the last few years before the very large increases approved for this year, how much it costs the taxpayers to give them their salary and great benefit package has gone up double digits yearly over the last 5 years or so. Has anyone working for a private company averaged double digit increases for their entire pay packages? I think not!
This is how our city council operates as follows: The city has a $2.8 million dollar two year deficit as of July 2015. This was the budget that the city council passed. Instead of looking for ways to get our budget balanced, the city council irresponsibly increased the deficits by approving massive salary increases for city employees, especially the police and fire. Now the city is deperately looking for short term revenues even at the expense of less revenue in the long term. The city has a large park dwelling fee of $11,700 per unit of any size. Therefore, the more high density buildings the more money comes into the city coffers in the short term. With this scenario the city is always looking for money to bail them out in large part for the poor and irresponsibility choices it has made in the recent past. Fullertonians this is not the way to run a city government but it is exactly the way our city government is run lead by Mayor Fitzgerald and City Manager Joe Felz.
Please remember all of these things Fullertonians when you consider reelecting any of the incumbents this November. For my hard work and diligence and always following the facts and truth, I got canned by Council member Whitaker last month without him even giving me a reason. We need a complete sweep of new council members in Fullerton. Let us start this November.
P.S. I am proud of my fellow Fullertonians who spoke or came to give support to those who spoke in opposition to the Melia Home development as currently constituted. They did there homework and they came together to try to save something that it definitely worth saving…our rural neighborhood.