After years of planning, representatives from Cal State Fullerton and Hope International University met in front of the Fullerton Planning Committee last night to discuss CollegeTown, a proposed 70-acre area surrounding Cal State Fullerton intended to provide housing, retail and university-related facilities to students and faculty.
The proposed project is a joint effort between the city of Fullerton, CSUF and HIU to create an environment where “college and community life meet in a high activity, urban environment,” according to the city’s website.
The Director of Community Development Karen Haluza guided the planning committee through the CollegeTown master plan.
If approved by the city council, CollegeTown would radically change the current landscape in the neighborhood.
Current zoning laws allow for 2-story buildings only. Among many changes proposed, the city, CSUF and HIU are pushing to change these zoning laws that would allow construction of high-rise apartment buildings. Plans under CollegeTown would allow housing structures from as little as two stories to a maximum of 10-stories.
“This is my home and I’m concerned that these changes will depreciate the value of my property,” Lupe Valdez said, a Fullerton resident.
The city of Fullerton, CSUF and HIU believe that additional housing facilities could attract thousands of commuter students to the area and help alleviate parking concerns.
The city of Fullerton has also proposed a permanent closure of Nutwood Avenue. This street currently offers residents and commuters close and immediate access to the 57 freeway.
CSUF and HIU plan to use this street to create a multi-purpose open space area with greenery called the Nutwood Plaza. The plaza would include a park, open to the public.
“Eliminating Nutwood Avenue would only create more traffic problems,” Sean Paden says, vice chair on the design review committee.
According to the city of Fullerton’s website, the design review committee “advises the planning commission on matters relating to physical design characteristics, including architecture, site design, signs and landscaping for certain major development project.”
Paden, an 11-year resident, has been vocal about the project’s flaws calling it “magical thinking” on the part of the city. He started a Facebook page “Our Town Not College Town” in an effort to help organize the community.
The Facebook page is comprised of local residents and business owners that are opposed to the growing urbanization of the city.
Several homeowners lined beside the podium during the 90-minute presentation patiently awaiting their time to publicly address the planning commission.
“I am opposed to the entire project. I’d like to keep my neighborhood the way it is,” Candy said, a 47-year resident.
“I have a daughter that lives in the homes behind Chapman Avenue. Traffic is terrible now and it will be worse,” said Samantha, another long-time resident.
Last night’s meeting highlighted a growing communication problem between residents and a city that wishes to expand and create economic opportunities.
“A lot of trust has been lost by the residents,” Paden said.
The planning commission will review the proposal and report its findings to the city council. The city council is set to vote on the proposal on March 15.