Save Coyote Hills is Working

This may be surprising considering the Friends of Coyote Hills is locked in a lawsuit with the City of Fullerton and Chevron-Pacific Coast Homes to uphold the public’s 2012 Measure W vote which should have overturned the City Council’s approval of the Coyote Hills development. But hear me out.

It’s been 16 years since Chevron-PCH began its latest development approval application. Back then critics scoffed at our mission to save all 510-acres of Coyote Hills as a park and preserve, saying “it’s a done deal”. We persisted to educate the community on the impacts of this massive development… and hired a lawyer.

In 2010 the Fullerton City Council denied Chevron-PCH’s development proposal. Victory was short-lived however, when Chevron-PCH sued the City. The City caved and handed Chevron-PCH the approvals in 2011.

Around this time, we stopped hearing “it’s a done deal”. Now the objection was “there’s no money to buy the land”. We kept looking (we were awarded a $1 million matching grant in 2015).

In 2012, the Friends sponsored a successful referendum called Measure W that overturned the Development Agreement. This was despite Chevron’s whopping $1.3 million campaign budget which probably set a record for a Fullerton election.

As a result of the successful referendum, Chevron-PCH set aside one parcel on the east side of Coyote Hills for open space as a concession. The houses they would have built on this parcel were shifted to the west side of the site instead. Progress!

In 2015, three years after our vote, the Fullerton City Council finally weighed in on the effect of Measure W … nothing. Legally, a developer can reapply for approvals one year after a referendum but those approvals are not automatically reinstated. Moreover, any new approvals can be subject to another referendum. In this case, Chevron-PCH got to keep their 2011 approvals. The City also inched the development forward by moving the terms of the failed Development Agreement to a tract map document (VTTM) to avoid a referendum.

If there was any silver lining, it was that the City agreed to raise funds to acquire two parcels of West Coyote Hills. While the Friends disagree with the City’s approach and small scope of acquisition, it’s a giant leap for an institution that for years chimed “it’s a done deal” and “there’s no money“ to now take action to seek funds for some acquisition.

This year, our state leaders Sharon Quirk-Silva and Josh Newman proposed two bills to help the acquisition of all 510-acres of West Coyote Hill: AB 510, West Coyote Hills Funding and SB 714, Coyote Hills Conservancy.

The majority of the City Council voted to oppose and change the bills to limit acquisition and allow Chevron’s development to continue.

Saving Coyote Hills is working, but it’s not done. The public should write or call the Fullerton City Council to tell them to get on board with the majority of the community to save all of Coyote Hills as a park and preserve. No more excuses. The means to save all of Coyote Hills is here.
Email: council@cityoffullerton.com, or call and leave a message at 714-738-6311.

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