Fullerton City Council defers funding decision on park furnishings and nonprofit agencies, increases affordable housing funds by $1 million

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Fullerton City Council increased affordable housing funds by $1 million and deferred a decision regarding leftover CalRecycle funds at Tuesday’s meeting.

Affordable Housing decision
Fullerton City Council approved increasing city financial assistance from $7.2 million to $8.2 million for the Fullerton Family Apartments project, opening dozens of new affordable housing units in an effort to combat homelessness.

The $1 million increase will “account for an unanticipated financing gap, resulting from a tax credit crisis in December 2016,” according to the amended Affordable Housing Agreement.

The project adds 55 family housing units, 54 affordable family units and one manager’s unit, at 336 E. Santa Fe Ave.

Of the 55 units proposed, there will be five studios, 22 single bedrooms, 14 two-bedrooms and 14 three-bedrooms available.

Rent prices will vary depending on the Area Median Income (AMI) of the city.

The proposed amendment also partially satisfies certain portions of the 2013 York Settlement and related case Gambill v. City of Fullerton, by allotting six housing units that will strictly be available for extremely low-income, or 30 percent AMI households.

“We commend the city for bringing this problem to our attention,” said Suzan Sabyl Landrum, an attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Orange County representing Gambill. “We support the amendment which increases the number of extremely low income units available for occupancy by two or fewer individuals which is consistent with our settlement agreement.”

All funds, which totals $1 million and another $10,000 for legal fees, are to be derived from the city’s Low and Moderate Income Housing Asset Fund (LMIHAF).

CalRecycle fund options
The council’s vote on the appropriation of CalRecycle’s remaining $87,660 fund ended in deadlock and will be reseen before the council at its next meeting. Councilmember Greg Sebourn was not present to break the tie.

Parks and Recreation Manager Alice Loya presented four funding options to the council during her presentation.

Councilmember Jennifer Fitzgerald and Mayor Pro tem Doug Chaffee supported the fourth option which proposed allocating the full funds to purchasing park furnishings.

“I look at the list of parks that are just here and the good that this money can do on the southside and in the east part of town, all of those in more of our park poor communities,” Fitzgerald said during the meeting, mentioning Pearl Park and Lemon Park among others. “I think those communities and all of us could really benefit from this infusion of capital.”

Loya said during her presentation that park furnishings include items like picnic benches, kiosks and trash cans that are made with recycled beverage containers.

Councilmember Jesus Silva supported option two which proposed using $67,660 to purchase park furnishings and $20,000 to fund one or two local nonprofit agency programs. Before opening the floor to a vote, Mayor Bruce Whitaker said he would also support option two at this stage “in the spirit of compromise.”

“I wanted to see if there are local nonprofits that can (meet funding requirements) and provide a service to our city,” Silva said. “My whole aim (was that) we have given it to nonprofits before, let’s try it again.”

Silva said he was concerned with the lack of “competitive bidding” in the past between nonprofit agencies for funding.

The money was not used on park furnishings in the past because it was not handled by the Parks and Recreation Committee, Loya said. Instead, between $24,000 and $40,000 was used to fund the Eco Challenge for Fullerton sixth graders at the Orange County Discovery Cube.

The other two funding options proposed were option one, with $47,660 used to purchase park furnishings and $40,000 to fund one or two local nonprofit agency programs, and option three, which proposed using the full funding to support up to four local nonprofit agency programs.

Under the proposal, agencies eligible for funding included Fullerton nonprofit agencies with a program or project that is to “the benefit of the city,” Loya said.

Eligible activities included neighborhood drop-off recycling programs, public education, litter prevention and clean-up and other related programs all with a focus on beverage-container recycling, Loya said.

Parks and Recreation Director Hugo Curiel advised the council to make a quick decision because the issue is time sensitive.

Loya said the funding must be used by June 30, 2018 but the Parks and Recreation Committee have a list of items ready for which park furnishings to purchase when a decision is made. She said the remaining funds are the last from CalRecycle that can be used for park furnishings due to new restrictions.

“The reason for this discussion at this point is because the rules have changed,” Chaffee said. “I would not like to wait until the last minute to buy furnishings for the parks. I think our residents deserve the use of those furnishings in the meantime.”

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