FULLERTON : Welfare Office Site Rejected by Council

For the second time this year, the City Council has rejected plans for a welfare office in an industrial park on East Orangethorpe Avenue.

After hearing 2 1/2 hours of public testimony Tuesday, the council decided on a 3-2 vote that an industrial area is an inappropriate place for the county Social Services Agency to have an office.

The council turned down a similar plan for the same site in March.

Representatives from neighboring companies said they did not want the area inundated with cars and pedestrians traveling to the office.

The area has no sidewalks and is zoned for industrial use, said Frank Reid, executive vice president of the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce, whose members voted to oppose the project. By allowing the welfare office, he said, the council would be cutting back on available industrial space in the city.

The industrial park already has traffic problems with current employees and trucks moving through the area, said Eddie Fischer, president of Vista Paint Corp. The proposed welfare office would have been next door to Vista Paint's office at 2020 E. Orangethorpe.

"I'm not against (social service) facilities," he said. "But I just think this is not the right place."

Councilman Richard C. Ackerman said he voted against the proposal because it would hurt existing businesses in the industrial area.

Councilman Don Bankhead and Mayor Molly McClanahan dissented with the council majority and voted to allow the office.

The owner of the industrial building at 1900 E. Orangethorpe, Burnett-Ehline Development Co., had asked the city to allow the building to be converted for use by the county.

The county has been searching for an office in the area for the past four years, said Robert Griffith, chief deputy director of the county Social Services Agency. An office on Homer Street in Anaheim is severely crowded with clients, many of whom are from Fullerton, he said.

Griffith said he has looked at office and commercial sites in the area, but none was as good as the industrial building on Orangethorpe.

"The Catch-22 for us is we don't believe there is an office, or not many offices anyway, that would have the characteristics we need," Griffith said.

The county requires enough parking space for employees and clients, and it must be close to bus routes, he said.

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