“No good deed goes unpunished,” said Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald (who works for a political lobbyist) following a public hearing over the city’s decision to apply for grant funding to purchase less than half of the undeveloped Coyote Hills land for an inflated price based on its inappropriate rezoning for housing. Her smug exasperation was primarily directed at Friends of Coyote Hills (FCH) Chair Angela Chen Lindstrom, who addressed the council to clarify that the position of FCH was to support the city’s grant applications, but that FCH was also suing the city because the council did not follow the proper process in 2015 when it approved Chevron’s plans to develop the site.
The primary issue of contention is the Vesting Tentative Tract Map (VTTM) approved by the council late last year without a new development proposal by Chevron, who had their previous plans quashed by the defeat of Measure W in 2012. Angela Chen Lindstrom explained FCH’s position clearly to the council, that Measure W should have overturned that development, and required a full new proposal process before another could be adopted, but to little avail. Mayor Fitzgerald departed from her usual smooth-as-glass demeanor to flaunt her contempt for Ms. Chen Lindstrom and her argument, in an apparent attempt to portray FCH, the only force trying to save all of West Coyote Hills from the bulldozers, as incorrigible malcontents.
Angela Chen Lindstrom’s comments from the March 15 meeting are reprinted below. Her reasoning is compelling. In the future, Mayor Fitzgerald would do better to listen more and dispense with her patronizing antics.
Angela Chen Lindstrom:
“I want to set the record straight on the Friends of Coyote Hills’ position on the West Coyote Hills VTTM and subsequent actions by the City since November 2015. Of course it’s a matter of public record that we along with hundreds of residents protested your approval of the VTTM. Your approval was based on development approvals that should have been overturned by the 2012 Measure W, the people’s referendum on the development of West Coyote Hills.
We were blindsided with your decision to ignore our vote as part of your VTTM approval in October and November last year. All of our cautious optimism on a long awaited acquisition plan were dashed by your VTTM – almost 2 years of what we thought was good faith collaboration with the City and Chevron on a fair chance to save all of West Coyote as a nature park. Turned out it was a set up for a nosebleed price tag for the land which according to the staff report today is $145M …. to be raised in a year.
The staff report tells a limited story. It sounds great. The City is finally applying for public grants that we have always said were available to buy West Coyote Hills for a nature park. But not by first setting the price as high as possible. Then asking for public monies to be transferred into the hands of a private party. All while ignoring your own voters.
I want to make it clear … in your staff report, you mention that a lawsuit has been filed against this VTTM. You don’t name who filed the lawsuit. On the last page of your staff report, you mention a $1M matching grant the Friends of Coyote Hills was awarded. We were proactive in fundraising even before the VTTM because of our mission to save all of West Coyote Hills for a park for now and future generations. No one should read your staff report and think we are no longer committed to our supporters and community in that mission and vision. However, no one should read your report and think that we are onboard with your VTTM plan which does not align with our mission. In fact I should point out that your proposed acquisition notice is not a commitment. Even if neighborhoods 1 and 3 are acquired, most of the 760 houses and shopping center originally proposed in the development plan will still be built in West Coyote Hills.
That lawsuit was filed by the Friends of Coyote Hills because we do not support any plan based on ignoring the vote of the people. We do not support enriching a corporation at the cost of that. Yes, Chevron as a landowner deserves to be compensated for their land, but not at the highest possible price when your voters have spoken.”