Archives for posts with tag: Coyote Hills

Coyote Hills Vista

by Angela Lindstrom

Reprinted from the Early October Issue of the Fullerton Observer

The Friends of Coyote Hills vs. The City of Fullerton and Chevron-Pacific Coast Homes (PCH) appeal was heard in court on September 20, 2018. The Friends sued the City in 2016 after it approved the West Coyote Hills Vesting Tentative Tract Map (VTTM) that gave Chevron-PCH vested right to develop the site. This was despite a successful 2012 Measure W referendum that should have overturned the City Council’s approval of the Development Agreement.

 The lawsuit was first tried in October 2016. The judge ruled against the Friends, reasoning that Measure W did not overturn or terminate the Development Agreement. Rather Judge Claster said it negated the Mayor’s authority to sign this Agreement. Therefore the Development Agreement never came into effect.

While this may seem like splitting legal hairs, terminating the Development Agreement is significant because the City wrote in other ordinances that upon the termination of the Development Agreement, all of the West Coyote Hills development approvals are automatically nullified.

The City holds the view that only they and Chevron-PCH can end the Development Agreement, not voters because that is the power the City gave themselves in the Development Agreement. In the event of a successful referendum, they have the option, not mandate, to terminate the Development Agreement (Section 2.3). Since they didn’t choose to terminate it after Measure W, all other development approvals are still valid; no auto-nullification.

That raises the question: what was the point of Measure W if the people’s vote could not overturn the Council’s approval of the Development Agreement?

The California state constitution grants voters the right to overturn laws made by their government.

The City Council approved the Development Agreement. Sixty-one per- cent of Fullerton voters rejected that approval. And yet, the City took no action to end the Development Agreement.

The appeals court judges challenged both sides on whether the Development Agreement was terminated by Measure W. Does the City have the last say to terminate the Development Agreement over the people’s referendum?

If so, what would be the point of a referendum? The Friends’ attorneys argued that when the Development Agreement was terminated by Measure W, all development approvals were auto-nullified — just as the City wrote in other ordinances they approved (No. 2011-32 and 2011-33, Condition 26).

Chevron-PCH’s attorney stuck to the lower court’s reasoning — the Development Agreement was never effective due to Measure W, so it can’t be terminated and that Measure W was a single-issue referendum. Fullerton voters were just trying to strike a better deal than the City for the development of West Coyote Hills. This case is not about the people’s referendum right he said.

 The City’s attorney argued that the Development Agreement was an exchange of public benefits for the City and private benefit for Chevron-PCH (vested right to develop West Coyote Hills). They would never allow the development to proceed without this guarantee, so after Measure W, it re-codified the terms of the Development Agreement in the VTTM (which is not subject to a referendum).

In a final remark, the Friends’ attorney pointed to recent cases where the California Supreme Court upheld the people’s right to referendum over city policy making that interfered with that right.

“It’s a complex case,” concluded Judge Bedsworth. 

The judges have up to 90 days from the September 20th hearing to publish a ver- dict which will be determined by agreement of at least 2 of the three judges. 

For updates on this and other Coyote Hills issues visit http://www.coyotehills.org 

DougCoyoteHillsMagnify

Matthew Leslie

4th District Supervisor candidate Doug Chaffee has inappropriately included a photograph of a Friends of Coyote Hills billboard in a campaign mailer sent to households last week. The image was included in a montage of photographs meant to illustrate the Fullerton mayor’s argument that North Orange County has not received its “fair share of park and recreation funding.”

While the observation about unequal distribution of county funding for parks may be accurate, the combination of images used on the page is misleading. An image of the candidate gazing out across the hills, assembled together with no fewer than four signs for city parks or trails, and a photo of the Friends of Coyote Hills billboard, all set against the backdrop of undeveloped land, is obviously meant to imply that the candidate shares FCH’s vision of preserving all 510 acres of the property as a park. Doug Chaffee’s actions in recent years, however, tell a different story.

While Doug Chaffee did vote against the original development as a Planning Commissioner in 2011, and was later seen as the only voice on the Fullerton City Council to save the area for a park, in 2015 Doug Chaffee joined other members of the Fullerton City Council to approve Chevron-Pacific Coast Homes’ Vesting Tentative Tract Map (VTTM), a modified development plan that could potentially result in the same number of homes in the area. The Friends of Coyote Hills opposed the 2015 VTTM plan because of the inadequate timeline allowed for fundraising efforts to acquire neighborhoods slated for development, and for the use of a VTTM itself, seen by many as an end-run around legal requirements that should have required Chevron to submit an entirely new application for development following the 2012 referendum that saw over 60% of Fullerton voters opposing the original plan.

Doug Chaffee also joined other members of the council in objecting to State Senator Josh Newman’s legislation that would establish a path for state funding to purchase the land.

DougCoyoteHillsMailer

The inclusion of the billboard, prominently featuring the group’s website, prompted a response in the form of a statement to the Friends of Coyote Hills Facebook page and Twitter account:

“It has come to our attention that a candidate in the OC Supervisor 4th District election used a photo of our Save Coyote Hills billboard in his campaign mailer. Just want to remind everyone that we are unable to endorse any political candidate due to our 501c3 nonprofit status. In addition, we are definitely not affiliated with said candidate.
Hope everyone votes with saving Coyote Hills in mind. Good elected leaders make a huge difference!”

Coyote Hills Vista

The Fullerton City Council wants the state’s $ 15 million, but not if it means saving the whole park.

Angela Lindstrom

Reprinted from the Early September Edition of the Fullerton Observer

In the August 2017 issue of the Fullerton Observer, I wrote a somewhat tongue-in-cheek piece titled “I’m All for Saving Coyote Hills… Unless It Can Actually Be Done”. This was in response to the Orange County Register’s misinformed editorial criticizing a couple of pending state legislations to help fund the acquisition of West Coyote Hills for a public park and preserve.

AB 510 and SB 714 legislations as currently proposed by Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva and Senator Newman would set up a multi-year funding program through a Coyote Hills Conservancy to save all of Coyote Hills as a park and preserve for our park poor region of North Orange County. This is consistent with Fullerton voters’ 2012 Measure W referendum that rejected the development of West Coyote Hills.

Sadly, the majority of the Fullerton City Council lived up to my “expectation” by rejecting AB 510 and SB 714 at its August 1st City Council meeting. It’s not that they don’t want the state funds. They want the money to go directly to the City so they can implement what they call the “Path Forward”, a euphemism for the development of West Coyote Hills as proposed by Chevron-Pacific Coast Homes.

This is the “local control” (another euphemism) they want so they can circumvent the conservancy oversight of park funds. Under this path forward to development, the City can purchase a couple of pieces of land at the highest entitled price. But even if that is successful, most of the 760 houses and shopping center will still be built on the remaining land.

Wait, millions of our tax dollars will be paid to Chevron-PCH and we have to live with all the negative impacts of their development: 10,000 additional daily car-trips on our streets, air and dust pollution, houses built on polluted oil wells and an earthquake fault, and overcrowded schools?

Councilwoman Fitzgerald followed up this Council meeting by slamming AB 510 and SB 714 in the OC Register, borrowing the famous words (not infamous as she wrote) of Ronald Reagan: “The most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government, I’m here to help.’” We should be more terrified of the lack ofcitizen local control over our own local government.

But it gets worse. At the August 29th Special Council meeting, Councilwoman Fitzgerald insisted on discussing an un-agendized item to re-write SB714.  She proposed language to poison and weaken SB 714 to enable the development of Coyote Hills.

Fitzgerald Coyote Hills 714

Fullerton City Councilmember Jennifer Fitzgerald introduces language to modify SB 714 during a joint study session about the Fox Block.

SB 714 as proposed by Senator Josh Newman would gather funds to save all 510 acres of Coyote Hills for a public park and preserve. Councilwoman Fitzgerald wants to add language to legitimize the Council’s 2015 approval of Chevron’s Vesting Tentative Tract Map (VTTM), with all of its terms and conditions, including the Environmental Impact Report as the only plan for Coyote Hills (development).

The legitimacy of this VTTM the Fullerton City Council approved by ignoring the people’s 2012 Measure W vote is the very subject of a lawsuit led by the Friends of Coyote Hills, Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, and the Center for Biodiversity.

If you support saving Coyote Hills and don’t want to lose this funding opportunity, write or call the Fullerton City Council and tell them to support AB 510 and SB 714 as proposed by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and State Senator Josh Newman. Stop trying to confuse the public with the path forward to development.

Fullerton City Council

303 W. Commonwealth Avenue | Fullerton, CA 92832

(714) 738-6311

Email: council@cityoffullerton.com

 

Angela Lindstrom is the President of the Friends of Coyote Hills coyotehills.org

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