Tonight's City Council Agenda is spectacularly huge. There are 23 items on is and that doesn't include the study session for the Task Force On Homelessness and Mental Health Services or the Closed Session conferences with legal counsel. One of the countless law suits alone could cost Fullerton taxpayers more than $10-million and no one was killed. Indeed, it is a strange world we live in.
I'm not sure what to expect for the Task Force's study session and the agenda is void of information.
The Consent Calendar is where we often see expensive plans put quietly in motion and tonight is no different. The 15 items consist of General Plan update, legal contracts, labor contracts, insurance report with recommendations from staff, November's general election, Successor Agency debt update (more on this in a moment), Measure M funding, custodial services contract, agreement with Brea for sewer replacement, rezoning, property acquisition, sewer lining, Chapman Ave (at Fox Fullerton) right-turn lane, and the Walnut/Lincoln sewer replacement.
All told, these represent $647,106,698 in spending. Of that, $641,969,234 is from the Redevelopment Agency's debt courtesy of the City Council. That leaves $5,137,464 in new expenditures/allocations. And where is this buried? The Consent Calendar.
There are Public Hearings on four items.
Agenda item 16 is the OCTA Bike Share Pilot Project. This is a 66-month trial run to see if people will use bikes dispensed from an automated bike rack like a vending machine. The staff report claims huge success in major metropolitan cities like Boston, Chicago, and Mexico City.
Item 17 proposes the use of tax dollars to subsidize a low-income apartment building proposed for 345 East Commonwealth, dubbed the Alexander Senior Housing Project. Besides the issue of using public funds for private housing, there remain discrepancies in the City's numbers. The Joint Powers Authority that the City wants to partner with has approved $14,000,000 while the City seems to think they will get $14,500,000. I have repeatedly brought this up and City staff just shrug. I oppose the project for several reasons including substandard parking, zoning, and open space, as well as the use of public funds for private development. Deals like this are bad for taxpayers and ultimately bad for the real estate market. It gives one developer, The Richman Group or TRG, an unfair advantage by giving them $14,000,000 and numerous development concessions as noted above. And TRG has little to no risk.
Item 18 is the tow franchise and repeal of a chapter from the municipal code. This is the by-product of the Fullerton Police Department's failed attempt last year to ramrod a contract through to Anaheim/Fullerton Towing and To' and Mo' Towing. Last year you may recall that the FPD compiled and reported to the Council the nitty-gritty details of employees who worked for the other responding tow companies. Most saw the report for what it was, cheap shots to justify keeping a 40-year contract in place. The FPD then pushed through a commercial truck route law that punished tow operators on City streets. Everything the FPD has had to do with towing seems to be under a dark cloud of cronyism and special favors.
Item 19 is the proposed revised budget that was continued from the last meeting. City Staff were ordered to return with a balanced budget. Although the balance sheet works, the premise behind the more than rosy numbers is questionable. For example, the budget assumes the City will receive $20,000 in outdoor dining fees for restaurants with patios in the public right of way, like Florentine's bar on the northeast corner of Commonwealth and Harbor except Florentine's won't be paying a dime for their use of the sidewalk. Ask the council members being recalled why. The budget also shows a "potential revenue from citywide fee study" with $50,000 generated. Since when does a study in and of itself generate tax revenue? Then there are the so-called cuts or savings. Staff assume that there will be a $260,000 reduction in contract costs for legal services, graffiti, animal control, and custodial service. The proposed custodial contract is $16,430 less than the current contract which allocated $425,801 to cleaning City Hall. Strange how we can get the contract workers to take a 4% cut but not our own employees. There are several other glaring issues that should have been addressed but weren't.
And finally, Regular Business...
Item 20 is All the Arts for All the Kids Heart Project. This allows those big decorated hearts to be placed all around town without going through the permit process.
Item 21 tackles the skate park and its operations. It asks that the Skate Park Ad Hoc Committee pick up the slack and help with cleaning and maintaining the park. That's a first and not a bad suggestion if their are community members interested in taking on that role. I'm glad to see it opening up again (pending approval by the Council). there is an estimated $50,000 cost to make some much needed upgrades and maintenance.
Item 22 is the Boys & Girls Club lease agreement. The deal looks a little shady. The City asked the Club to lease the facility in exchange for a $1,000,000 contribution. The Club will purchase their own furniture and computers ($300,000) and will pay the remaining $700,000 in monthly payments of $3,333.33. At that rate, it will take the Club 17.5 years to make their "contribution" to the City. In the mean time, Park Dwelling Funds will be used to backfill the shortfall. I like the Boys & Girls Club but this creative financing is not good.
Outdoor dining is last on the list as item 23. Aside from playing with the numbers, one of the proposed price lists uses type of beverage served. No alcohol means you will pay $0.30/SQFT, beer and wine will cost you $0.60SQFT, and full liquor means you get saddled with a $0.90SQFT cost to use the public's right-of-way. As noted above, Florentine's seems to be immune to these taxes despite his outrageous encroachment onto public property for the consumption of alcohol.
So what's missing? WATER RATES!!! Why aren't they being adjusted?
There is a lot to cover tonight and I hope you come out and speak. Speak from your heart and be heard.