Brea Old and New: Tick-Tock, History Isn't So Boring After All™ ~ Charlie the Clock

Terri Daxon

  • Terri’s Town: Community needs to talk about need for environmental board

    4 years ago by


      In February after a presentation on oil operations given by a group of Brea citizens that included Rick Clark, Susan Fujioka, Ann Marshall, Jennifer Hefner and Christie Russell, plus environmental experts, those Brea citizens asked the City Council to consider forming a citizens’ environmental advisory board. Their concerns were mainly about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for extracting oil and gas from the oil fields surrounding Brea.

        Since then, the group has held meetings with Brea’s civic leaders and staff and asked for a public hearing be held at a City Council meeting or elsewhere regarding the possibility of forming a Brea environmental advisory board that would address environmental issues beyond those in the oil fields.

          The city staff checked which Orange County and other California cities had environmental advisory boards or committees.

            What they found was that 10 O.C. cities have some type of environmental board or committee. They also found that several cities up and down the state have environmental committees, but do we need one in Brea?

              I did my own research (thank you, Google) and found the boards and committees vary in their environmental focus. For instance, Irvine’s Green Ribbon Environmental Committee recently discussed paper shredding events, recycling Christmas trees and promoting the use of LED holiday lights.

                No real surprise that San Clemente’s environmental group is the Coastal Advisory Committee, while Santa Ana has an Environmental and Transportation Advisory Committee. Laguna Woods gets the prize for longest name for its environmental group: Hazard Mitigation and Climate Change Committee.

                  “Fullerton’s Energy and Resource Management Committee” said City Manager Joe Felz, “provides policy recommendations to the City Council on a variety of energy and resource issues.” He added that two years ago the committee also became an appeals board for residents’ appealing water bill issues. “This has been very successful,” said Felz.

                    Since it was folks concerned about fracking that approached the City Council about establishing an environmental advisory board, would that be their only emphasis?

                      “No,” said Clark, who is also a Brea planning commissioner. “An EAB would be a portal for focused study and understanding of environmental issues…keep council apprised of local successes and growing environmental and legislative risks.”

                        Fujioka, although a real watchdog and self-made expert on oil and gas operations and state regulations, emphasized that oil operations are just one aspect of the bigger environmental puzzle the board would address.

                          We already have the Hills for Everyone environmental group in the area, but according to Claire Schlotterbeck, its executive director, “Our interest is land conservation and all of the co-benefits that come from that (including) reduced traffic, reduced pollution, reduced water use and increased quality of life.”

                            There certainly could be some overlap between the two groups, but since Hills does not address oil and gas operations there is no overlap in that area.

                              The only way to find out if an environmental advisory board is right for Brea is for there to be a public discussion on the advantages and possible stumbling blocks from establishing and maintaining such a board.

                                Sound good to you? If so, let our City Council members know.

                                  Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications. Contact her at

  • Money from landfill affects to help pay for parking structure

    4 years ago by

    Once the City Council finally determined Brea needed to build a third parking structure in the downtown, the next step was to find some $10 million to build it. They didn’t search much farther than the landfill mitigation money for a big chunk of it.

      In 2009, the county of Orange, which owns and operates the Olinda Alpha Landfill, made a deal with Brea to pay the city $10.5 million in mitigation fees for the privilege of extending the life and breadth of the landfill until 2021, when the landfill is estimated to reach capacity.

        Those fees, according to Brea City Manager Bill Gallardo, include $1.50 per ton of refuse deposited in the landfill and paid quarterly to the city. The current balance is approximately $5.2 million.

          The mitigation fees are to compensate for the daily assault of truck traffic, noise, odors, air quality and other environmental impacts. Many of us were led to believe preservation of open space was included.

            Gallardo said the landfill agreement gives the city discretion in use of the funds. He pointed out that the document states…”capital mitigation funds can be used for implementation of measures designed to mitigate impacts…. including, but not limited to traffic, noise, aesthetics and open space preservation.”

              It is that “not limited to” that opened the door to scooping into the pot for projects such as solar bond payments of $1.4 million. Gallardo said that during the Great Recession the landfill money was tapped to pay the solar bond payments as a means of avoiding additional staff layoffs and cuts to city services.

                “The General Fund has resumed paying its share of the Solar Bond payments,” said Gallardo via email, adding that “at this time there is no reimbursement planned” for the landfill money used.

                  In 2012, the state ended redevelopment agencies originally used to combat blight in cities, and eventually took Brea’s redevelopment bonds of about $5.6 million. Our city leaders scrambled to find more money for pending and future redevelopment projects, maybe like the goofy-looking sunshades on the corners at Birch Street and Brea Boulevard.

                    Come 2014, our city leaders got the big idea of separating that $1.50 tonnage fee from the rest of the mitigation fees and naming it the Community Benefit and Economic Development Fund. This was to help compensate for the loss of redevelopment funds and the continuation of so-called legacy community projects plus attracting and retaining business and economic development.

                      “It will have approximately $3.4 million in it by the end of this fiscal year, “ said David Crabtree, Brea’s community development deputy director. It is expected to increase by $1.3 million by next year.

                        The hefty balance and growth of the new fund seemed to give the council the push they needed to soon dip into it to the tune of $4.7 million to help pay for the new parking structure. And the balance? The state has released about $5.6 million in redevelopment bonds and they are also earmarked by council for the parking structure.

                          Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications. Contact her at

  • With lots of talk, council chooses parking structure plan

    4 years ago by

    After nearly three hours at the Aug. 18 council meeting, the Brea City Council finally made some decisions on the prospects of a parking structure behind the Tower building in Brea Downtown.

      While some past councils barely spoke to one another on and off the dais, these folks discuss every issue into oblivion. I thought it might be a short meeting. I was very wrong.

        The question was simply should they vote for building a parking structure for the eastside of Brea Boulevard, and should it be for parking only or include 40 affordable housing units and offices for Jamboree Housing, the developer of such housing?

          Simple? Nope. But all five council members did agree that the mixed-use plan was too costly at nearly $19 million and would yield only eight more public parking spaces than the parking-only plan that offers 307 new parking spaces at a cost of $12.7 million or less, bringing the total available parking to 486 spaces.

            Finally, Councilmember Cecilia Hupp made a motion to approve the parking-only design option and was seconded by Councilmember Steve Vargas. But that was voted on after Councilwoman Christine Marick made a substitute motion to eliminate the mixed-use plan but not address the parking-only plan. That passed 3-2 with Mayor Marty Simonoff and Hupp dissenting. After much more discussion Hupp’s motion was passed 4-1 with Councilman Glenn Parker dissenting.

              Parker and Marick favored the mixed-use plan, but not the price tag.

                Said Marick, “Brea has a longstanding commitment to affordable housing so I am certainly open to looking at other opportunities to build affordable housing in or near the downtown.”

                  At the Sept. 22 council meeting, the funding sources are suppose to be named, and the Big Five can use their great communication skills to debate such decisions as if money should come from the 560 Fund, originally intended for hillside preservation, or if the city’s unfunded pension liability will stall the project. That doesn’t seem to be the case, according to Simonoff.

                    “There is a plan already in place to reduce pension liability,” said Simonoff, “every city (including Brea) is required to pay additional funds to reduced the liability. Plus we are looking at other methods to utilize some of our funds to reduce our liability in a manner that will speed up the process for Brea.”

                      The parking structure’s Request for Proposals from qualified builders goes out in the fall.

                        In 1999, when the downtown was just emerging, then Councilman Roy Moore pushed in vain for a parking structure behind the Tower building. In his final Brea Net e-newsletter, No. 708 published July 15, 2015, he wrote that it could have been built then for $5 million with redevelopment money and Tower would not be empty for nine years.

                          Roy passed away Aug. 19. He served 16 years on the City Council and three terms as mayor. We’ll all miss him walking around the July 4 Country Fair in his Uncle Sam hat, and him stopping to chat with one and all at Brea Fest or John’s Place.

                            Rest in peace, my friend.

                              Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications. Contact her at

  • Residents getting creative with water conservation

    4 years ago by

    While the drought is nothing new, how our city dealing with it is.

      Recently Brea enacted its second phase of water conservation, which more seriously regulates water use.

        The basic regulations are posted on the city’s website, in the Brea Line and at a lot of other spots. Some of the regs include residents watering only on Mondays and Thursdays for a maximum of 15 minutes, while the city will water its properties Sundays and Wednesdays. Other rules prohibit hosing down our driveways and sidewalks, and washing cars while letting the water run on the grass in between hosing it off. No more. Now you must use a bucket or a hose with an automatic shutoff. Or just go to the carwash.

          Other regulations include no watering within two days of rain, repairing leaks within 48 hours of discovering them, and adjusting your sprinklers so the water doesn’t flow onto the sidewalk or the street. And water enforcers will be watching to see if we are complying.

            Said Eric Nicoll, Brea’s public works director, via email, “If they see a violation they stop and talk to the person and leave a information card.” No fines at this time.

              Walking and driving around Brea one sees that many of our neighbors are taking conserving water very seriously. Maybe it could be the rebates given for removing turf. A lush, green lawn is presently a thing of the past. And many folks are replacing thirsty plants and grass with succulents, artificial turf and rocks, often combined with pavers.

                But what else are most people doing to address the drought? To find out, I emailed one of my unscientific surveys to nearly 100 Breans. Here is what I discovered:

                  A majority of folks put a bucket in the shower to catch the water while it warms up for their shorter showers. Some people keep the bucket in the shower to catch excess water during their shower too, then use it to irrigate plants and the lawn.

                    Most people said they turn off the water while brushing their teeth or shaving. Several mentioned installing low-flow toilets and following the message, “if it is yellow let it mellow, if it is brown flush it down.”

                      A couple of people have bought high efficiency clothes washers that weigh the clothes and then add only the water needed for that load. Another smart thinker catches the gray water from her washing machine for watering plants and shrubs.

                        These are some of my favorites that I haven’t heard before: Heat a mixing bowl of water in the microwave and put it in the sink for rinsing utensils while preparing meals. Another Brean roasts vegetables instead of boiling them in water as a means to conserve. The veggies probably taste better too.

                          I thought I was pretty cool because I started capturing the condensation from the air conditioner and using it to water my potted plants, but another person stated he does the same thing.

                            With a little effort we’ll get through this drought and hope that a rainy season comes next.

                              Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications. Contact her at

  • Improv plan could be a windfall

    4 years ago by

    A huge opportunity was placed in the City Council’s lap. Now what will they do with it?

      At the May 5 City Council study session, Stu Schreiberg of the Improv Corporation and Dwight Manley, a major Brea Downtown property owner, gave a brief presentation of a proposed Brea Improv that has little resemblance to the present one on Brea Boulevard.

        The new Improv would move to the corner of Brea Boulevard and Birch Street, presently housing Old Navy. Manley Fanticola, owners of that property plan to spend more than $10million to tear down and replace that building with a 41,000-square foot, two-story Improv.

          “The Improv will invest heavily in the interior buildout,” said Manley via email.

            This new Improv would have a commanding and exciting exterior and feature large theater auditoriums on both floors, two fine dining restaurants and outdoor seating on both levels. Besides comedy, this Improv would feature live plays and musical productions. It would be, according to Schreiberg, an entertainment destination.

              He also said that Improv Corporation plans very soon to open five of these mega Improv theaters around the country in such places as San Francisco, Nashville, New York and Brea Downtown.

                It would put Brea on the SoCal entertainment destination map and add a new level of sophistication and excitement to the downtown.

                  Quite a windfall for Brea, right? But the air could quickly blow out of that windfall if another parking structure is not built on the eastside of Brea Boulevard, behind the very vacant former Tower building. Without it, the Improv will go elsewhere. Their present lease ends in 2016.

                    This is a huge opportunity for Brea and it all hinges on securing a new parking structure. You can’t build an entertainment venue with theater seating for nearly 600 people plus the restaurants without adequate, convenient parking. Such a parking structure will benefit not only the property owners, but also all of us who will benefit from the tax dollars the Improv Entertainment Center brings to Brea, and it can’t hurt our own property values either.

                      Our city leaders made the right decision in the 1970s with the very successful Brea Mall that could easily been built in another city along 57 Freeway. Do we want to see the new Improv be built in Fullerton or elsewhere in Orange County, when it could be built in Brea? I sure don’t.

                        What I am sure of is if you missed the fourth annual “Celebration of Brea’s Sister Cities” at the Curtis Theatre at the Brea Civic Center on May 3, you missed an evening of outstanding entertainment.

                          Presented by the Brea Korea Sister City Association, it featured a wide variety of music and dance representing Korea, Japan, Mexico and the USA, including the terrific the Brea Olinda High School Jazz Band. Also terrific was the very talented Korean American Youth Performing Artists who did amazing drum dances. All of the other dancers and singers were also outstanding.

                            Proceeds from the celebration will help Brea students to travel to our sister city of Anseong, Korea.

                              Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications. Contact her at

  • Fanning back to being home

    4 years ago by


      Last February I had a tour of the under-reconstruction Fanning Elementary School; Superintendent A. J. “Skip” Roland and Principal Susan Metcalf led me through a sea of drab, gray concrete with girders and wires hanging down from the bare ceilings.

        It showed little resemblance to the colorful classrooms that were part of the school prior to the 5.1-magnitude earthquake on March 28, 2014.

          Although the earthquake was centered in La Habra, Brea got its share of shaking and Fanning suffered major damage, including the release of encapsulated asbestos that I referred to as toxic fairy dust. It was a mess and grades two through six and their teachers were quickly moved to extra classrooms at Laurel Elementary School.

            It also became an opportunity to finally update the 44-year-old school.

              But that is all in the past and this week Fanning’s upper grades returned to completely renovated, and asbestos-free classrooms and it looks like a new school.

                Last week, Metcalf gave me a preview tour of the pod-shaped classrooms that open into a central area. The entire school is now has Wi-Fi. Every classroom has energy-saving, bright LED lighting, LCD projectors, wheeled cabinet room dividers and wipeable bulletin boards. They replaced the cloth-covered room divider/wall panels compromised by the asbestos shower.

                  Most of the classroom furniture pieces are modular units, although the original teachers’ desks were cleaned, certified and back in the classrooms.

                    A new state-of-the-art computer lab, much larger than the previous one, has very cool modular wheeled tables and chairs that can be configured numerous ways to accommodate solo or team tasks. The lab also has the ability to offer interactive video conferencing. Somewhat like Skype, but on a much larger and more sophisticated level.

                      Many of us when in elementary school had pen pals in foreign countries. Imagine Fanning students interacting with video pen pals in Norway, Italy or Korea. Pretty cool.

                        The Brea-Olinda Unified School District, said Metcalf, is providing Chromebooks for the students, but not every student will have their own. She also said that all students at Fanning will have Gmail accounts, but the email will be on a protected service that basically is limited to communication with the teacher, including turning in homework and other projects. I guess that means the old excuse of “the dog ate my homework” just won’t cut it any longer.

                          While the pod classrooms, stage and other areas all have new carpeting, paint and lighting, and much that was damaged is now gone, the colorful and delightful mural that wraps around the library interior was carefully preserved and looks as beautiful and bright as ever.

                            The entire project took more than a year, much of it due to a huge amount of asbestos abatement. The cost was approximately $6.1million dollars, according to school board President Bill Hall. He added that another $1million was spent on earthquake repairs at Brea Olinda High School.

                              Fanning’s theme for this school year was “There’s No Place Like Home.” What could be more appropriate?

                                Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications. She gives her perspective on Brea issues twice a month. Contact her at

  • News Ramping up for more freeway improvements

    4 years ago by

    If you live or work near State College Boulevard and Lambert Road you are aware of the traffic mess heading to and from the 57 Freeway.

      That area has been on Caltrans’ radar for a few years and now that the widening of the 57 Freeway to Lambert Road is completed, this project seems to be a priority.

        Over the past few years, several plans were considered that offered improvements to the Lambert Road-57 Freeway interchange. Caltrans has narrowed the choices down to two. On March 25, the agency held an open house for the public at the Brea Civic and Cultural Center to present both plans on large boards. It was for the project’s environmental impact report public comment period that ran from March 2 to April 2.

          While there were nice Caltrans folks to answer questions, there were no handouts to take. The information is available online at SR-57/Lambert Road Interchange Improvement Project.

            Too bad they didn’t hold the open house earlier in the month so more people could learn about it and give their comments, because there will not be another comment period. But Breans can sure let their City Council know what they think about it and that could make a difference.

              Both plans share many same features: adding lanes to the on and off ramps so traffic doesn’t pile up the way it presently does and widening of Lambert Road to reduce congestion accessing or exiting the freeway.

                Alternative 7A includes a huge northbound loop on-ramp that takes up a lot of room. So much that to construct it and other aspects, it requires the right-of-way acquisition of the Brea Car Wash & Detail Center on Lambert and the demolition of one or two apartment buildings in the Country Woods Apartments on Associated Road.

                  “The two affected buildings,” said Raul Lising, Brea’s interim city engineer via email, “are expected to consist of 17…residential units.” He believes there are eight units in one building and nine in the other. There is also a long row of carports across from the apartment buildings directly behind the car wash that would also have to go. Nice.

                    Lising added, “Relocation assistance is proved to each business and/or tenant…depending on their individual circumstances.” An attorney representing the car wash told me at the open house that there is no place to relocate them in Brea. And how much time will we save getting on and off the freeway by kicking out a busy car wash with many employees and several apartment residents? Oh, about 43percent fewer delays per vehicle per day. Whoopee. And Alternative 7A comes with a $59million price tag.

                      Plan 9 saves us drivers 31percent per day on the on-off ramps at a cost of $33million and only takes a small portion of the car wash, allowing it and the apartments to remain. Either plan will be a construction nightmare for us for 18 to 24 months, starting in 2019.

                        Both plans carry big price tags for a questionable amount of time saving.

                          Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications. She gives her perspective on Brea issues twice a month. Contact her at

  • Oil operations concerns raised at council meeting

    4 years ago by

      Last year Linn Energy, the oil drilling company that works the oil fields just beyond Brea’s borders, gave a presentation on the hydraulic fracturing process, or fracking, and how safe it is.

        At the last Brea City Council meeting, Mayor Marty Simonoff announced that Linn said it would find a way to notify residents of oil activity such as fracking.

          That was prior to a group of Brea residents and experts who made their own presentation to the council that night about local oil operations. They had requested the time during the meeting, Linn Energy was not invited to participate.

            They started with Rick Clark who talked about how Brea oil operations date back to 1866, and its long relationship with the oil industry.

              Ann Marshall expressed frustration with oil industry jargon, and how a slight change in a term refers to another procedure. Marshall said she was told no acidization, the injection of chemicals into the well to dissolve rock, was happening in the Brea oil fields, but found acid solutions are used for well maintenance.

                She also spoke about acid dump jobs that use more than 20,000 gallons of water plus acid solutions. She said she learned that procedure was used on the water disposal well by Olinda Elementary School.

                  Jennifer Hefner spoke about the Clean Air and Clean Water acts’ exemptions and exclusions for the oil and gas industry, and concerns that they give oil and gas extraction preference over public health, safety and environment.

                    The next speaker was Calvin Tillman, former mayor of DISH, Texas. He showed an aerial view of DISH dotted with spots that he said were hundreds of oil and gas facilities within approximately 2 square miles. He then showed a photo of dead trees and said they previously bordered a gas facility. Once it began operations, he said the trees began dying and DISH was filled with odors and pollution.

                      He spoke of how the pollution affected his sons who had health issues including nosebleeds in their sleep when odors were the strongest. That caused the family to move 25 miles away and, Tillman said, the boys’ health issues subsided.

                        He showed what he said was an image, taken in Texas, revealing volatile air emissions not visible to the naked eye. Then he showed a similar photo that he said was shot in Bakersfield. Made me choke.

                          He suggested Brea create a task force to develop public policy that protects public health and property.

                            Attorney Damon Nagami of the Natural Resources Defense Council told of pollution caused by all aspects of oil operations, and how the state’s Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources lacks adequate regulations and oversight.

                              Christie Russell spoke of how her family had worked in the Brea oil industry, but how we must learn more to better understand the risks and rewards of enhanced oil operations.

                                The group emphasized the need for a citizens' advisory board appointed by the City Council.

                                  So will Linn Energy want rebuttal time before the City Council? Not according to company spokeswoman, Sarah Nordin, who said via email, “As it relates to the City Council, Linn will not be providing a rebuttal to any information that was presented as there were no specific comments related to Linn’s operations in the Brea area.”

                                    Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications. She gives her perspective on Brea issues twice a month. Contact her at

  • “The Face of Brea” Photo Contest Winners

    4 years ago by

      Anyone who viewed “The Face of Brea” Photo Contest album knows that Greg of Greg Voisan Panoramic Photography had a tough job in choosing just five winners. To us, they’re all winners.
  • Birch Hills teeing up for reopening

    4 years ago by

    Entry Sign_Nov2014_cr

      It is the middle of February and Birch Hills Golf Course is still shrouded in green cloth with locked entry gates.

        For at least the last two Brea City Council meetings, Bob Lindner of the Birch Hills Men’s Golf Club has come before the council during Matters from the Audience attempting to find out when the course will finally be open to golfers. But he and his fellow golfers won’t have too much longer to wait.

          Public Works Director Eric Nicoll then stated that Birch Hills Golf Course is expected to open in May. Matt Clabaugh, principal with Imperial Golf LLC., which will manage the golf course, confirmed the May opening and that there are some exciting promotions planned for welcoming back golfers to an entirely new executive golf course.

            “We will offer Brea residents a one-time 50percent green fee discount,” Clabaugh said via email. He added that the redesigned course would retain five par 4s and have many improvements.

              And what about a new clubhouse, the subject of many City Council discussions over the past few years? This council and staff have finally come up with an amendment to the lease with Imperial Golf that, when approved by Imperial Golf, will allow the construction of a new clubhouse/pro shop.

                According to Nicoll, Imperial will use a $400,000 credit against its own reserve fund plus $50,000 from Chevron, which still owns the property, plus Imperial will kick in another $150,000 in new funds to build an attractive 2,500-square foot clubhouse and pro shop.

                  The single-story structure will be constructed without any city funds and feature a restaurant with two outdoor dining decks overlooking the lake or the driving range. From the renderings, it looks like a beauty and nothing like the former clubhouse.

                    Imperial Golf principals are expected soon to sign the agreement that also includes improved terms. The city will now be responsible for future capital improvements more than $50,000 instead of $5,000. City revenues for food and beverage sales more than $600,000 will be 7percent instead of 5percent. And one for Imperial, the city’s revenue share of green fees more than $1,100,000 will be 26percent instead of 27percent.

                      Once the golf course is completed, ownership of the property and all the improvements, including the clubhouse, will be transferred by Chevron to the city of Brea.

                        Clabaugh said they expect the new clubhouse to be open by the end of this year. In the meantime, one or more portable units will temporarily house a restaurant and pro shop.

                          Across town, work continues on Fanning Elementary School, which suffered tremendous asbestos and other damage during the earthquake last March.

                            I recently toured the campus with Superintendent Skip Roland and Fanning principal Susan Metcalf. The asbestos is long gone and steel girders, fire proofing and other work is completed, but there is still much more to be done before teachers and staff welcome students back in the fall to what will be like a brand new school and worth the wait.

                              Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications. She gives her perspective on Brea issues twice a month. Contact her at