Saving West Coyote Hills: What's Next

By now, most local residents know that Measure W was defeated by a healthy margin on November 6, 2012. At the beginning of this campaign, we posed this question on our blog: Does the "F" in Fullerton Stand for Fool? Fullerton voters deserve huge credit for proving they are not, even when barraged with $1.5 million worth of deceptive advertisement.

Is West Coyote Hills saved? Not quite, but we have taken another giant step towards that goal. Here are our next steps.

Number one. The City of Fullerton must uphold the people's vote and it needs to follow the ordinances they wrote themselves to nullify all approvals for Chevron's development plan. No if's or but's and no play on words. The full spirit of those ordinances must be followed. As stated in the Measure W’s Impartial Analysis written by the City's special counsel on the West Coyote Hills matter: "... either party has the right to the terminate the Development Agreement and in that circumstance the other project approvals would become null and void".

Section 2.3 of the Development Agreement, the subject of Measure W states:  “If either party reasonably determines that … this Agreement will not occur because … any of the Existing Development Approvals for the Project is/are disapproved by the City’s voters at a referendum election … then such Party shall have the right to terminate this Agreement … and the Existing Development Approval[s] for the Project shall similarly be null and void… “

The Development Agreement defines “Existing Development Approvals” to mean all Development Approvals, including without limitation the following:  General Plan Amendment, Specific Plan Amendment, Zoning Amendment, Tentative Tract Maps, EIR (Environmental Impact Report), and all conditional approvals for the aforementioned. In other words, everything Chevron has worked towards since 2003 with the release of the draft EIR.

Fullerton voters rejected Measure W by exercising our right of referendum accorded to us by our state's constitution. We did this by following a lawful process, and despite a playing field that was tilted very much in favor of the opposition. There is no option but for the City to terminate the Development Agreement. When that decision is made, it then follows all other project approvals are nullified as stated in the approval ordinances the City wrote to protect itself from a scenario that would only benefit the developer at the expense of the City.

When the City upholds the voters’ will and follows the law to reject all development approvals, it will have set the clock back almost 10 years when Chevron began its current application for approval. According to the referendum process, they can return with a different plan after one year, but no sooner. We hope that they will find it more profitable to use their resources to negotiate the sale of West Coyote Hills for a park. If not, let’s hope the Fullerton City Council will represent the interest of their constituents. If not, voters will step in again.

Number two.  Line up the money to purchase all of West Coyote Hills. I’ve written in the past about real funding sources for the purchase of West Coyote Hills. I’ve also stated that the problem is not the availability of funds but rather the lack of a willing seller in Chevron. Public pressure (our last decade of work culminating with the recent defeat of Measure W) combined with funding make a willing seller.

Fullerton is not in this alone. Throughout the election, we were cheered on by our neighbors in La Habra, La Mirada, Buena Park, Brea, and even Anaheim who hoped Fullerton voters would make the right choice and save West Coyote Hills. We were also cheered on by organizations that have long stood by us and are experienced in saving lands for parks: Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense League, Center for Biodiversity, Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, League of Conservation Voters, the River and Mountains Conservancy, and more. They were ecstatic with the news of Measure W’s defeat and called it simply “amazing”. At the same time, they offered more help to take this to the next level. So the question now is not whether we can succeed in saving all of West Coyote Hills, but why we should fail.

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Showing 7 reactions


commented 2013-11-06 18:15:51 -0800 · Flag
TY :)
commented 2012-12-19 07:13:48 -0800 · Flag
There were several supporter comments at last night’s (12/18/12) city council meeting urging the council to provide transparency and clear communication on the status of their next steps. Although there was a closed session ahead of the meeting to discuss pending city litigation (one of which was Chevron’s), there were no agenda items on West Coyote Hills/Measure W to be discussed. Mayor Whitaker did make a statement at the beginning of the public meeting to let the audience know they are aware of the “high interest” on this matter, but the new council will need a little time to come up to speed on the history of West Coyote Hills so they can make decisions with “wisdom”.
The next Fullerton council meeting is 1/15/13 due to the holidays. We’ll keep updating you as we have more information. In the meanwhile, have a glorious holiday season! May the new year bring you much happiness.
commented 2012-12-05 21:50:39 -0800 · Flag
Nothing much of substance took place at the 12/4/12 Fullerton City Council meeting. The election results for W was certified by the City (see language of resolution below) with no mention of overturning the Development Agreement and other development approvals. It’s more than disappointing. You’d think the City would have prepared for this scenario. This is reminiscent of the 2010 hearing when the City Council rejected Chevron’s development plan. The staff had not prepared resolutions for a denial, just an approval so the hearing had to be continued to a subsequent meeting to allow denial resolutions to be prepared.

The City has a closed Council session on 12/18/12 to discuss legal matters with their attorney. It’s unclear whether a resolution to W may be had by that meeting. We’ll keep supporters posted.
commented 2012-12-03 07:34:42 -0800 · Flag
The Fullerton City Council will certify the results of the November 6 election at their 12/4/12 (Tuesday) meeting. The statement about Measure W is vague and it is unclear what action is being taken rather than recording the number of votes.
“That as a result of the election, a majority of the voters voting on Measure W relating to the West Coyote Hills Development Agreement / Nature Preserve did not vote in favor of it and that the measure did not carry and shall not be deemed adopted and ratified.”
We, the public need to attend this meeting (Tuesday, 6PM, City Hall at 300 W Commonwealth) to ensure this matter is handled properly and fully. The Development Agreement needs to be formally terminated.
commented 2012-11-22 20:09:42 -0800 · Flag
Check out a color commentary on the election results at the Orange Juice Blog > http://www.orangejuiceblog.com/2012/11/orange-countys-biggest-losers.
commented 2012-11-21 21:55:58 -0800 · Flag
Final certified results of Measure W by the Registrar of Voters is 60.8% (27,253 votes)-No versus 39.2% (17,551 votes) Yes.

The City of Fullerton will be certifying the election results at their December 4, 2012 City Council Meeting with the new City Council of Chaffee, Fitzgerald, Flory, Sebourn, Whitaker. The City still has not clarified the full extent of actions they will be taking as a result of the rejection of Measure W. All that was explained at last night’s Council Meeting was that they are preparing for the enactments of rejecting Measure W for the 12/4/12 meeting. We’ll be there of course, and will provide everyone an update.
commented 2012-11-15 07:42:41 -0800 · Flag
Our City Clerk surmised that the Registrar will certify the election results before Thanksgiving. This and other election results (including new council members, the plural is a toss up at this point as Jan Flory is up by 4 votes for the third seat) will be presented at the 12/4/12 City Council meeting for certification. However it’s currently unclear what other action regard W will be taken at that meeting or possibly a later one.

The City stated that the meeting with Chevron last week was not about Measure W. Our new Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (who has a few more weeks at City Hall) said this when we reached out to her: “My hope is that the games stop with Chevron, and that they come back to the table. There needs to be a fair, ethical way for them to work with the city. The games of adding Nature Preserve and using the legal system to overwhelm the public needs to stop. I will look for ways to help in my new position …”

We are as always, grateful to her and any elected official for looking out for the public’s interest.

We are working this actively, and we’ll keep everyone updated as we find out more news.

On a slightly unrelated note and in case you have not been keeping track, Jan Flory now has the lead for the third City Council Seat by a mere 4 votes. There may be a couple thousand more votes to be counted yet.
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