Taking the Fun Out of Family Fun Night
One item on the Tuesday Tustin City Council agenda came and went without much notice.
Several months ago, the manger of Old Town establishment Beach Pit BBQ approached the city council with an idea for a family fun night. He envisioned an alcohol-free environment of vendors, arts & crafts and kids games along two blocks of El Camino Real. It has been a successful model in other cities like Huntington Beach and Fullerton, which has had a weekly, seaonal street fair for over 15 years. It has been a long overdue idea for Tustin.
The promoters began soliciting support from local residents and merchants in the area along El Camino Real south of Main St. Issues needed to be worked out about blocking traffic and accessibility by businesses and the residents who live on that section of the street.
Not surprisingly, some of the residents looked upon the idea as a weekly intrusion. One resident stated that his 80 year old mother would have a hard time with the weekly event and worried about access in an emergency. None of this was unexpected. We often forget that some of Tustin’s oldest homes are tucked in between the businesses along El Camino Real. It’s not unreasonable for them to expect the same right to privacy as any other resident in Tustin. And, these folks graciously put up with the 30,000 plus crowd that shows up each year for the Annual Chili Cookoff held in the same area.
What was surprising was the amount of resistance by local Merchants in the Jamestown and the Bally’s shopping centers, who stood to directly benefit from the street fair. Complaints centered primarily around the day of the week, Thursday (one merchant did offer that Monday would be a better day for them), and the location, which they feared would impact parking.
It’s important to note that no one really had an objection to holding the street fair. It was that they did not want it on that section of the street. Yes, we have NIMBYs in Tustin too.
There were other issues, mostly surrounding the city’s involvement (or non-involvement) with assembling and dismantling traffic barriers and changing the light timing at Main and El Camino Real. After several months of discussion, the matter was finally tabled indefinitely at Tuesday’s council meeting. A staff report stated the initial proponents of the idea had withdrawn their application for a permit until a permanent location, possibly on private property, could be found.
I am sorry to see this idea delayed further. I remember the Fullerton Street Fair has been a great success and something that our family looked forward to each week when we lived there. Everyone, including the city council, seemed to like the idea. The city staff should be commended for their work with the promoters of the idea. In the end, no one could find a way around the costs and objections.
Hopefully, someone, perhaps a local non-profit group, will come forward with a viable solution. I would suggest they look at using the same lot as the Wednesday morning Farmers Market. They might even be able to use neighboring 3rd Street for additional space as that would involve barriers but no change in traffic lights, etc. And, as far as I know, there are no residents on that street other than the lofts, which can easily be accessed from both Main Street and Prospect Avenue. That’s my two cents.
In any case, the idea of a family fun night may have suffered a setback. But, hopefully, it is not dead. I know I am not alone in looking for better, healthy ways to spend time with my family and, hopefully, we will see this item on the agenda in the near future.