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Coyote Hills Vista

Angela Lindstrom, Friends of Coyote Hills

The 4th District Court of Appeals side- stepped the people’s referendum right issue when it ruled against the Friends of Coyote Hills on their Measure W lawsuit on December 6, 2018.

The judges framed this lawsuit more narrowly as a business contract between Chevron-PCH and the City of Fullerton even though the subject of the 2012 Measure W referendum, the West Coyote Hills Development Agreement, was codified through a City ordinance which is subject to referendum.

The City wrote the West Coyote Hills development approvals so that if the Development Agreement was terminated, the other approvals such as the General Plan amendment, Specific Plan, and even the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) would be overturned.

The Friends of Coyote Hills sued the City of Fullerton after it gave final vesting rights to Chevron-Pacific Coast Homes in 2015, despite the people’s successful referendum which should have terminated the Development Agreement.

The appeals court ruled that while the Development Agreement was approved through an ordinance, the City and Chevron had the final say on whether it would be terminated even after a referendum because that was what they wrote in the Development Agreement. The people’s referendum veto was therefore moot. Since the City and Chevron chose not to terminate the Development Agreement after the referendum, the other development approvals stand.

While it’s not surprising that the appellate court avoided ruling on a constitutional matter, this case leaves the door open for the City of Fullerton and other California cities to write ordinances that deprive people their referendum veto, a right granted by our state’s constitution.

 
In recent years, the State Supreme Court has overruled Orange County courts when cities overstep their powers to make land use decisions at the cost of people’s right to participate.

 
In December 2016, the California Supreme Court unanimously sided with the citizens of Orange to reaffirm decades of well-established planning law that supports the right of voters to use the referendum process to challenge local land use decisions.

 
In March, 2017, the California State Supreme Court sided with the Banning Ranch Conservancy against the City of Newport Beach. The Orange County Register reported that “The case hinged on a simple question: Did the city of Newport Beach violate its own municipal ordinance in 2012 when city planners approved development at Banning Ranch, even though voters in the city had previously said they wanted the land to remain open space?”

 
The Friends of Coyote Hills have until January 15, 2019 to file a petition to the State Supreme Court to review this case. A generous donor has already kickstarted a $20,000 challenge grant to support the Friends of Coyote Hills’ continued effort to save Coyote Hills and preserve the public vote.

If you can make a donation please visit the Friends of Coyote Hills website at www.coyotehillls.org or call 657-325-0725.

Dec. 5 Water Ad Hoc

Matthew Leslie

Fullerton has a Water Ad-Hoc Committee for the purpose of reviewing “… anticipated cost increases for maintenance and operations, as well as robust funding for the water system infrastructure.The Water Ad-Hoc Committee reviewed the last approved water rate increase in 2013, which saw a “phased five-year rate increase ending in Fiscal Year 2017-18,” with the last increase occurring just six months ago on July 1, 2018.

Ratepayers (aka Fullerton residents–you) are invited to attend the meeting tonight and provide input on the Ad-Hoc’s next recommended set of increases over the next five years. The plan calls for a 13% increase beginning in 2019, followed by additional increases over successive years, ending in 2019. The committee has been meeting since August of this year to “vet water rate increase scenarios proposed by the Stantec Consultants for recommendation to the City Council,” according to an article by Water Ad-Hoc Committee member Jane Rands in the Early December, 2018 edition of the Fullerton Observer.

The city’s cited reasons for a planned increase in water rates includes our crumbling water infrastructure, the “final expansion of the Orange County Water District’s Ground Water Replenishment System and “other costs,” but the Fullerton Observer notes that an increase in 2014 “intended for the city to be able to step up water mainline replacement from one mile to six miles per year. Over the last five years of increases, however, the City has not replaced more than two miles in any single year for several reasons.”

Fullerton Police Chief (for the moment) David Hendricks

Matthew Leslie

UPDATE: The Special Meeting is NOT about Chief Hendricks. It’s about someone connected to the Kelly Thomas case, presumably the since fired FPD officer Jay Cicinelli, who wants his job back, since our incompetent District Attorney, Tony Ruckaukus, couldn’t get him convicted for helping to beat the poor homeless man brain dead.

The more direct reference to the subject of the Closed Session meeting can be found in City Manager Ken Domer’s weekly report at this link:

https://www.cityoffullerton.com/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=26046

Why the Closed Session Agenda itself does not include this single explanatory line is unclear.

The Fullerton City will meet in closed session on Thursday Nov. 1, 4:00 p.m. to consider a single agenda item:

PUBLIC EMPLOYEE DISCIPLINE / DISMISSAL / RELEASE Per Government Code Section 54957.1(a)(5)

https://fullerton.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=A&ID=645546&GUID=F57ECBE9-141E-4D01-B222-E1132D464F1B

I believe the Council only officially hires two positions, the City Manager and Chief of Police, and only one of those people has been on leave for two months pending a criminal investigation. Chief David Hendricks, who seemed to have been doing some beneficial housecleaning at the Fullerton Police Departmental during his seven month tenure, appears to himself be headed for the door.

The Chief has been on paid leave while under investigation for a reported off-duty physical altercation with emergency medical personnel called to treat his wife during an August 24 concert in Irvine.

The Council has tried hiring a police Chief from within the ranks and from outside of the city for its last two appointments. Our most recent former Chief Dan Hughes seems to have let the former City Manger off the hook for a drunken car accident, and now it looks like Chief Hendricks is going to be fired for an off-duty fight.

Here’s a suggestion: form a Civilian Police Commission and let them lead the search for a new Chief of Police this time around.

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