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Fountain Valley Crossings project dominates City Council candidates forum

Fountain Valley Crossings project dominates City Council candidates forum
Timekeeper Tim Whitacre uses a red paddle to indicate one minute left in a candidate's opening statement during Thursday's Fountain Valley City Council candidates forum. (Photo by Spencer Grant)

Fountain Valley City Council candidates talked development, economic development and the potential combination of both at the Fountain Valley Crossings rezoning project during a forum Thursday night at City Hall.

Dave Osborn, one of the eight candidates running for three available seats, said economic development is the best way to build city revenue.

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“I know there’s opposition anytime you try to do something in a town like this where you don’t have a lot of extra available land,” Osborn, who owns Fountain Valley Bowl, said at the Chamber of Commerce-sponsored forum. “Sometimes you have to tear something down or you have to change the zoning, but you have to be open-minded and think about what we need to do to continue to bring in revenues if you want to continue to have the great services that we have.”

Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce President Mary Parsons opens Thursday's City Council candidates forum at City Hall.
Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce President Mary Parsons opens Thursday's City Council candidates forum at City Hall. (Photo by Spencer Grant)

The City Council approved a package of zoning changes for Fountain Valley Crossings in January. The rezoning could eventually allow mixed-use redevelopment of 162 acres of a mostly industrial area on the city’s southwest side.

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Patrick Tucker, a tire company executive, agreed on the importance of economic development. He supported the Crossings if it’s built as an “entertainment mecca.”

Longtime civic volunteer Glenn Grandis said he thinks the Crossings needs higher-end restaurants and a quality hotel. He said hotels provide the best bang for the buck because of bed taxes. Corporate visitors to Hyundai and Kingston, major international corporations with Fountain Valley headquarters, end up staying in Costa Mesa because of a lack of Fountain Valley rooms, Grandis said.

Osborn said he also would support a hotel at the Crossings since it’s near the 405 Freeway.

Mollie Guyot gives thumbs-up to City Council candidate Glenn Grandis' opening statement during a forum Thursday night in Fountain Valley.
Mollie Guyot gives thumbs-up to City Council candidate Glenn Grandis' opening statement during a forum Thursday night in Fountain Valley. (Photo by Spencer Grant)

Local activist Kim Constantine said she wouldn’t support a hotel there, reminding the audience that she’s a strong Crossings critic.

“I really don’t like the fact that the city rezoned at this time,” she said. “They really should have waited until after all the 405 [Freeway] improvement work — five years, seven years, 10 years, whatever it is.”

She added that she doesn’t think members of the Planning Commission or City Council read the hefty Crossings plan before approving it, instead giving it a “rubber stamp.”

Patrick Harper, an accountant and a city planning commissioner, interjected to say he took offense, drawing applause from a few in the audience.

On other Crossings topics, Tucker said he would fight “tooth and nail” to avoid six-story apartment buildings, saying there wouldn’t be enough parking.

Grandis said he also wouldn’t support high-density housing in the area and said he is concerned about traffic.

Harper said the traffic might not be so bad.

“I think it’s a little bit overstated,” he said. “There’s going to be new development coming in, but there’s also existing development that’s there already. So when you replace an industrial area with a retail store, I may not create as much traffic as some people expect.”

Pat Ganer moderates Thursday's Fountain Valley City Council candidates forum.
Pat Ganer moderates Thursday's Fountain Valley City Council candidates forum. (Photo by Spencer Grant)

Tom Nguyen, a title executive, said he supports the Crossings as a “main street” gathering area. He said his family goes to Bella Terra in Huntington Beach, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa or Westminster Mall for entertainment.

Nick Lecong, a former chief of staff for two Orange County supervisors who also is the owner of an adult care facility, said he would donate his council salary to Meals on Wheels, which delivers meals to housebound senior citizens and people with disabilities.

“I want to volunteer my time,” he said.

Mayor Michael Vo, who has been on the council since 2010 and is the only incumbent running, said he wants to protect local quality of life.

“I am blessed with the confidence and blessed with your support so that we can continue to keep Fountain Valley a nice place to live,” he said.

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