Mayor denounces homeless shelter

In Local News, News
Eleanor Segura / For the Daily Titan
Eleonor Segora / For the Daily Titan

Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker announced his formal opposition to the proposed homeless shelter, planned to be located a mile south of Cal State Fullerton at a town-hall meeting Tuesday night.

The mayor expressed his concerns with the Orange County Board of Supervisors for choosing the Fullerton location as well as their failure to notify City Council members of their plans.

At Hope International University, for his second “Talk of the Town” meeting, the mayor took an unprecedented stance in opposition to the shelter. He said he is not yet sold on the operation and location of the shelter and has issues with the way the county has presented the plan.

“Count me as an opponent of the homeless shelter right now because of this method and the way this has been thought out,” Whitaker said. “I would like to help represent anybody who thinks they’ve been given a short shrift.”

Shawn Nelson, chair of the board, had his first and only meeting with council members regarding the shelter last week.

The mayor criticized Nelson for the lack of notice other than a short conversation the two had at an O.C. Board of Supervisors meeting in January.

On Jan. 15, the board approved the purchase of a closed down Linden’s Furniture store for about $3.2 million.

The building located on State College could become the future site of a year-round, 200-bed homeless shelter run by an organization that is yet to be determined.

The mayor also discussed his concern with the process used to choose the Fullerton location. He said the fact that the county plan did not have any alternative locations was “suspicious.”

Whitaker asked the county for an extension on the purchase of the property in January but was denied. The board told Whitaker that the city council has until the end of the 150-day escrow to figure out what they will do. Since then, six weeks have elapsed.

“I really need people who feel strongly, or are mostly impacted by it,” Whitaker said. “I certainly will do what I can to make sure your voices are heard and make sure those arguments are made.”

The town-hall meeting was held to address any concerns from the community regarding plans for the CollegeTown plaza project between CSUF and Hope International and the proposed homeless shelter.

Some residents believe the simultaneous implementation of CollegeTown and a nearby homeless shelter were counter-intuitive.

“For the universities, with the added housing and the added parking facilities, the interactions of the homeless shelter, people that would be using it and staying in the area would have a negative safety impact,” said Eric Coulter, a Fullerton resident.

Coulter added that he is not against having a homeless shelter, he just wants it to be in the right location in order to be successful.

Most of the meeting was focused on the proposed homeless shelter, the CollegeTown project and the recent transportation study.

CollegeTown, the mayor said, will bring plaza space to the area now occupied by Nutwood Avenue at the expense of roadspace.

Attendees of the meeting criticized the possible commute issues the Nutwood closure would cause. The project could bring as much as 14,000 new livable units close to the two campuses.

Whitaker also said he is opposed to any sort of on-rails trolley system, as part of a proposed revamp of transportation around CSUF, favoring a modular system instead.

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