Matthew Leslie

The image of a banner from the Friends of Coyote Hills, appropriated for an Andrew Cho mailer without the group’s permission. The group does not make political endorsements.

Matthew Leslie

A shorter version of this post is over at the Fullerton Observer:

Candidate for Fullerton City Council’s 1st District, Andrew Cho, has drawn the ire of the Friends of Coyote Hills for using an image of one of the group’s banners on one of his campaign mailers without permission from the group. Cho’s opponent in the race, Fred Jung, has voiced support for saving all of Coyote Hills from development. Andrew Cho has made no such pledge, despite appropriating the image of a banner displaying the words “Coyote Hills as a Park” and the Friends’ website, In the same mailer Cho’s position is listed as “protecting Fullerton’s valuable open space and parks,” a mealy-mouthed non-commitment worthy of any equivocating would-be politician.

The mailer also criticizes Fred Jung for signing the rebuttal to the ballot argument against Fullerton’s Measure W eight years ago. Measure W, which went down to defeat at the polls in 2012, would have authorized elements of Chevron’s plans to move forward with development of the West Coyote Hills—a 510 acre site The Friends of Coyote Hills have sought to instead save the Chevron-owned land as a park.

Jung has repeatedly characterized the addition of his name to the Measure W. rebuttal, as a “mistake,” attributing his support for Measure W to a “Chevron lobbyist assuring me that a sport field would be built in the proposed development.  As a volunteer director of a youth sports non-profit that was desperately searching for a home field, I was supportive accordingly.” Jung added,  “I have since acknowledged publicly I was ill informed and wrong.” Jung is founder of the Fullerton Bears, a Fullerton-based youth football and cheer organization. Jung also served as a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission and currently serves as a traffic commissioner.

A modified development plan for Coyote Hills was subsequently approved by the city council, who effectively ignored the will of the voters in doing so, but nothing has yet been built on the site as the Friends pursue their ultimate goal of preservation. Angela Chen Lindstrom, Board President of the Friends of Coyote Hills, released the following statement about the use of the group’s banner image on Cho’s mailer:

“I along with friends and neighbors met with Fred months ago to share the importance of West Coyote Hills as a park and open space for our community. We also shared the Friends of Coyote Hills’ past efforts that have led the site east of Gilbert being saved. Fred listened carefully to information that was new to his understanding of this issue. He explained that his past support of the development proposal was based on misinformation and promises of additional sports parks. He has since been crystal clear in his commitment to support saving Coyote Hills and even preserving the Bastanchury Tree Farm as a park. Fred recently joined the Friends in a trail clean up service event.”

“I was disappointed to see campaign material from another candidate using our Save Coyote Hills banner and photo to attack Fred’s support of open space. This was done without our knowledge. This election is confusing enough for voters. It’s obvious that preserving Coyote Hills as open space is a priority for our community because it is always a banner issue for campaign material. I just hope that all candidates deliver on their promise to protect Fullerton’s open space and parks.”

The image appearing on Andrew Cho’s mailer is the exact same one used for similar purposes in 2018—also without permission from the Friends of Coyote Hills—on a mailer by then candidate Doug Chaffee for his ultimately successful run for Orange County Board of Supervisors. Despite positioning himself as a champion of saving Coyote Hills, Chaffee later voted with Jennifer Fitzgerald and the rest of the council to approve Chevron’s Vesting Tentative Tract Map that allowed the current development plan to move forward, despite voters rejecting Measure W by over 60% in 2012. Chaffee later joined a council majority in voting to send a letter to the state government opposing a plan to purchase Coyote Hills though a state conservancy, instead preferring to take $ 15 million in state funds and spend it on a purchase of only certain portions of the area. Now Chaffee, who contributed $ 500 to Cho’s campaign, is openly joining Fitzgerald, former State Senator, now lobbyist, Dick Ackerman, and other Republicans (Chaffee is a Democrat) in endorsing Cho for the council seat.

Cho’s mailer also accuses Jung of favoring high density development, even though it is Jung who has been vocal about the importance of saving the Bastanchury Tree Farm site on the edge of the 1st District as open space instead of building housing or anything else there. Fullerton’s General Plan lists the nearly 8 acre parcel for Parks and Recreation use, but it recently joined a list of three of city owned properties for possible sale to developers. Led by Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald the city council approved shifting the Bastanchury Tree Farm site to the status of “surplus land,” allowing it, in accordance with a new California law, to be offered to a developer at a below market rate price. The law is ostensibly intended to promote the speedy construction of new housing in the state.

Cho’s mailer against Jung also accused him of being ‘Hand-picked by (a) high-density Republican multimillionaire developer,” a laughable hypocrisy given that it was Cho himself who seems to have been hand-picked by Jennifer Fitzgerald herself, a lobbyist and cheerleader for high density “mixed-use” development, to replace her on the council once her term expires this year (she declined to run for re-election)*. It is also Cho who has accepted $3,000 from the owner of the Rancho La Paz Mobile Home Park, whose residents say they’re being forced out so the park can eventually be turned into a high density residential development, another $ 1,000 from the California Apartment Association PAC, $ 800 from developer friendly North Orange County Chamber PAC, $ 250 from Ackerman himself (who spearheaded the choice for the developers of Malden Station), $ 500 from downtown landowner and realtor Walt Johnson, $ 500 from developer City Ventures, and $ 4,999 from prominent Fullerton property owner John Phelps.

*It is doubtful that Fitzgerald could carry the heavily Korean-American district, despite voting for the awful Districts Map four years ago that sought to minimize their vote.