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Fullerton : Downtown Assn. Sees Little Future for Group

Members of the Downtown Fullerton Assn. painted a dark picture for the future of their group, which has sought to revitalize retail activity in the downtown area.

A three-hour discussion with city officials last week changed little, said David Politte, president of the group, which represents about 60 merchants, community members and cultural groups.

The City Council’s continued reluctance to consider creating a downtown promotion district probably will mean the end of the 2-year-old association, which sponsors events such as the Founder’s Day Streetfaire, Politte said.

Mayor Buck Catlin said he did not sense the same feeling of “doom” that Politte and other association members expressed during a meeting attended by about 20 city and business representatives and a dozen residents.

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The council voted to give the downtown group $2,290 to help them get through July 1, the end of the fiscal year, but whether the city will underwrite any part of the group’s proposed allocation of $46,200 for fiscal 1985-86 is questionable.

When the association was created in 1983, the city said it would help it until 1985 and then the group would be on its own, Winter said.

This fiscal year, the city contributed $13,000--plus the $2,290 grant this week--to the group’s $30,000 budget. Membership fees and business contributions make up the rest of the funding.

City Manager William Winter said he will recommend that the city continue to finance the downtown group at approximately the same level it has for the past two years. Winter said he also plans to recommend that citywide events such as an annual parade, the Streetfaire and a proposed business recruitment program be financed entirely by the city and not the Downtown Fullerton Assn.

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Politte said members of his group became discouraged after a 3-2 vote by the council May 21 against their request for a public hearing on creating a district that would require all 300 businesses downtown to pay a fee to promote events for the area.

Before their request, Politte said his group canvassed almost all the downtown businesses, and that an overwhelming majority supported the idea or said they would not fight it.

Fullerton resident Gerald Hills, who spoke in favor of the assessment district, said he was disappointed that the council “did not allow for due process,” and likened the Fullerton association to a school’s den mother, “who gets stuck with all the work.”

But no more, Politte told those gathered at the meeting. “We’re tired and you ain’t going to get any more out of me.”

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