The proposed development at West Coyote Hills was on Fullerton voters’ ballot as Measure W in 2012. Friends of Coyote Hills (FCH) collected enough signatures to require the City Council to either overturn the approval for development or to let the voters decide. It went to a vote. The voters decided. 61% voted NO on Measure W.
Despite the failure of Measure W in 2012, the City Council did not take action to remove the development approvals at West Coyote Hills.
Over the two years since the vote, there have been announcements on the status of West Coyote Hills included in City Council closed session meeting reports. In the spring of 2013 we heard the news for which we all had been waiting .
Chevron was willing to sell the land.
Discussions with Chevron representatives and members of FCH about an acquisition process then began in the summer of 2013. Three meetings into the discussions there was another positive announcement.
Trust for Public Land (TPL) would begin negotiations for land acquisition.
TPL has a long history of working with property owners, interest groups, and matching funding sources to preserve open space. They also help to find or form conservation organizations to manage the land. But by early 2014 another announcement coming from the City didn’t bode well for the prospects of a nature park in Fullerton.
The Trust for Public Land would no longer participate in negotiations with Chevron.
There was no clear statement from TPL regarding their decision to end their role in the negotiations. In the most recent announcement from our City Council, it sounded like Chevron will be returning to Council with another plan for development. Has the hard fought referendum battle that was won by Fullerton voters degraded into partial acquisition?
That is not what Fullerton voters voted for when they voted NO on Measure W.
With TPL out of the picture, the City Manager under direction of the City Council is devising a plan for land acquisition. How much that will cost and where the money will come from or whether Chevron might choose to donate the land is yet to be determined.
What we need NOW is a City Council that will respect the will of Fullerton voters and follow through with an acquisition process that preserves all 510 acres.
Traffic is already a problem in Fullerton. More cars trips to and from the freeway would exacerbate gridlock. Increased traffic, construction and construction traffic would create more particulate matter and other pollutants that are especially harmful to children and older people.
With so much new building throughout the city, the people of Fullerton have a greater need now than before for open space.
The preservation of open space in park-poor North Orange County would provide more benefits to Fullerton than just any park. A large contiguous natural open space will allow flora and fauna to flourish. This will provide an opportunity for study and learning by neighborhood school children as well as adult learners at local colleges and universities. Extended walking trails through a natural space will provide recreation for Fullerton residents and visitors. People who come from outside of the city to explore and enjoy the area may also discover some Fullerton restaurants and other local businesses on their way to and from the trails.
If you are one of the 27,253 Fullerton voters who voted NO on Measure W in 2012, vote for me in 2014.
I campaigned in opposition to development of Coyote Hills in 2012 and I am doing so again in 2014. I also urge you to contact the City Council to tell them that you expect the will of Fullerton voters to be respected and West Coyote Hills to remain undeveloped.