There is a lot of confusion on whether Measure W had an effect on the development approvals or not. The answer is a resounding yes. Let's address that that in detail in a separate post. Our attorney, Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger is one of the best land use attorneys in the country. They stand behind that. The City's attorney says no and he has lots of excuses why. Do you remember this infamous question ... well it depends on what you mean by the word "is"? That's what city's attorney's arguments boil down to. And look, even one of the council members acknowledged that Measure W and the "poison pill" provisions should have taken effect on the development approvals.
You can argue whatever you want. Bottom line is what can you get away with. And the City Council thinks they can get away with ignoring our votes because even if someone sues them, Chevron is picking up the tab. Yup, look on page 40 of Exhibit A of the Conditions of Approval of VTTM No. 17609, item 20. "The Property Owner shall ... defend ...the City ... and City officials ... from and against any third-party claim ... seeking to attack, set aside, void or nullify the approval of the VTTM ..."
The Council is calling anyone's bluff but they are using Chevron's chips. So you see it's not about really about what is right or wrong by the voters. It's about what they can get away with.
Thank you so much for speaking up and showing up at the Fullerton City Council VTTM (Vesting Tentative Tract Map) Appeal on 11/17/15. The attendees were overwhelmingly in favor of a fair and feasible acquisition plan for a real chance at saving all of West Coyote Hills. We asked the Council once again to follow through on the 61% vote on Measure W. So many of you also wrote in to the Council for the same.
Sadly they did not listen. The Council sided with the Planning Commission and allowed the VTTM to pass with no changes.
The same arguments used at the Planning Commission against following through the 61% vote of the people were used by the council. One council member, Doug Chaffee, acknowledged Measure W did have the "poison pill" effect and should have overturned development approvals (Doug is an attorney by profession though he does not act in that capacity for the City). However, he didn't want to fight this legally and would rather try to purchase what land we can now (at the highest possible price, ouch!). Doug has always been very supportive of saving Coyote Hills, so we think his heart is in the right place. Not sure about the vote though.
The VTTM process is not subject to a referendum. However, we continue to voice the concern that the process used here is illegal. Measure W should have overturned all development approvals. Chevron needs to reapply for development approvals before seeking approval for the VTTM. The City let them run to the home plate by skipping all the bases. That is not playing by the rules.
We are going to weigh all options including legal action before we make a decision in the coming weeks. We sure would love to hear from you as to what you would like to see as next steps. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks again for showing up last night and standing together on this issue
Write to the City Council to let them know they need to respect our 2012 Measure W vote. We do not want development on West Coyote Hills. We want a fair chance to purchase the property from Chevron. The VTTM in front of them should not be approved on 11/17/15. Encourage Chevron to work with us on our modest requests.
In 2012, the people of Fullerton overwhelmingly voted against development in West Coyote Hills. The Friends of Coyote Hills is actively working with the City staff to raise the money to purchase the land for a park for now and future generations. There are real results, not just talk.
Do not approve the VTTM in front of you. It ignores my vote by stating Measure W did not overturn the development approvals. It does not give acquisition a fair chance. We need a fair price and we need 3-5 years to raise all the money to save this precious resource forever.
The Friends have already raised more than $1M. The City’s own grant writer is preparing to apply for about $10M in December and reported that the state agencies are uniquely cooperative for this acquisition. In the next year or two, there will be another $100M from Prop 1A for the LA and Orange County areas. There are also several million dollars from the OCTA M2 funds our County Supervisor Shawn Nelson is ready to fight for now.
Do not close the door on acquisition when real progress on fund-raising is gaining momentum. Do not approve the VTTM on 11/17/15. Encourage Chevron to work with the City and the Friends of Coyote Hills on a feasible chance for acquisition that will give them tens of millions of dollars in return.
We really need your help! Please attend the November 17th Fullerton City Council Hearing when we will appeal the decision by the Fullerton Planning Commission that rejected a feasible acquisition plan to save West Coyote Hills as a park.
This isn't just about a much needed park for this community. This is also about your vote in 2012 that rejected development in West Coyote Hills. It's about to be ignored through fancy legal double speak. Here's why.
After the 2012 Measure W vote where nearly 61% of the City rejected development of West Coyote Hills, we repeatedly asked the City to follow through our vote by overturning all development approvals. We exercised our constitutional right to veto our City Council's decision. There were 6 development approvals that were intertwined. If one was disapproved, so goes the others. This is the "poison pill" language the City purposely wrote into the approvals.
The City stayed silent on Measure W. In 2013, the City and Chevron offered to discuss acquisition instead. We thought all parties were working in good faith for the last 2.5 years. Our end-goal is to save all of West Coyote Hills for a park for now and the future. We want to work constructively with Chevron to achieve this goal. So we took them up on the "Path Forward".
We were shocked by the 9/30/15 publication of the VTTM (Vesting Tentative Tract Map) and its detailed acquisition terms. It has strayed so far from the feasible acquisition plan we have repeatedly discussed. We were not asking for much: a fair price, 3-5 years, phased acquisition in an order that gives the best bang for the buck. Compare that to the hundreds of pages of the VTTM and related documents where most of the Development Agreement we voted down in 2012 makes a reappearance.
It gets worse. As part of this VTTM, the City decides for the very first first time that Measure W did not overturn the development approvals. Chevron gets full development entitlement. They can appraise the land at the highest possible price for acquisition and we have only 1 year to raise all the money. Furthermore, the City's lawyer said that the final decision is in the hands of the City Council. So effectively, whether we have a veto power over the City Council is the City Council's decision, not the State Constitution!
If you care about your vote, if you care about saving Coyote Hills for a park, please show up at the 11/17/15 Hearing at the Fullerton City Council Chambers (6:30 PM, 303 West Commonwealth Ave, 92832) and let them know.
Fullerton Planning Commission Declares Development = Progress, Puts Stamp of Approval on Chevron’s Development Tract Maps
The Vested Tentative Tract Map (VTTM) reviewed at the 10/22/15 Fullerton Planning Commission Hearing contains a reincarnation of the 2011 Development Agreement that the people of Fullerton successfully referended in November 2012. Of course the interesting part of this VTTM is a conditional approval that defines the acquisition offer for West Coyote Hills.
Fullerton City Manager and Chevron-Pacific Coast Homes Project Manager, Jim Pugliese, have both been professional and courteous in working with the Friends for initial input on acquisition.
At least there is an acquisition alternative on the table as a formal option to development.
The acquisition terms do not allow a realistic shot at acquiring Coyote Hills for a park. They need to be amended.
Purchase price for most of the property is yet to be determined. Appraisals are due 11/30/2015. We urged the Commission to wait to make the decision on the VTTM after the appraisals, not before. It doesn’t make sense to contemplate purchasing the property without knowing its price. The Commission’s response: price doesn’t matter (or maybe they meant to say acquisition doesn’t matter).
The time to raise funds for acquisition is only about a year. That is not nearly enough time for a feasible acquisition plan. We asked for at least 3-5 years (and we don’t even know what the price is yet!). The Commission ignored our request. There were also some usual comments from those disinterested in acquisition that we should accept what is being handed to us because it has been 40 years, and they want to be see this “issue” resolved in their lifetime.
Forever – 40 years = Forever
We want to save Coyote Hills as a park not just for our own generation but for all future generations … forever. In fact when you think about it, most people who will benefit from a Coyote Hills park are not even born yet!
By coincidence, one of the Commissioners quoted an ancient Chinese proverb … the best time to plant a tree is 40 years ago. And then she voted to approve this plan that won't give acquisition a chance to grow.
The City announced for the first time the action they are taking on Measure W since the election of 2012. Nothing.
Measure W repealed the Development Agreement which had “poison pill” language to repeal other approvals such as the General Plan and Specific Plan Amendments, and the Environmental Impact Report. That is important because Chevron-PCH would have had to reapply for those approvals which are again subject to referendum. The City’s attorney said that the City chose not to take action on Measure W; they chose to not terminate the Development Agreement which they claim meant all of the other approvals were unaffected. That brings us to the VTTM approval which is not subject to referendum. See what our attorney thinks of this matter in the Legal Memo we submitted to the City at the Hearing. That also brings us to the subject of the appraisal.
Since the City chose to ignore W, leaving all development approvals in place, it is setting the appraisals to be done at the highest possible value.
The Bottom Line
On 10/30/15, we filed an appeal to the City Council which may hear this matter at its 11/17/15 meeting.
Firstly, thanks to the hundreds of our neighbors and supporters who showed up for the Public Meeting last week! Please do plan to attend the Hearing tomorrow. Show up and speak up.
When we set out on this plan for acquisition, we asked for a feasible shot at acquiring all of the West Coyote Hills for a park. The offer before us is definitely not that. It's sort of a "tails I lose, heads you win" proposition. Our City leaders need to negotiate a better plan than that.
Planning Commission Hearing
Thursday, 10/22/15, 7 PM
Fullerton City Hall
303 West Commonwealth Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92832
The long awaited park proposal is coming up for a formal public review and then Fullerton City Planning Commission Hearing for a vote. This is a complex formal Development Proposal contingent on an offer by Chevron-Pacific Coast Homes to first allow the City an option to purchase West Coyote Hills for a park. If funds cannot be raised by a deadline, then the property can be developed as approved under this proposal.
The Friends of Coyote Hills has provided limited input to this proposal at a high level. We have discussed a funding model with funding sources and target amounts with the City to achieve the acquisition. Anticipating a high purchase price, we modeled the acquisition in phases over 3 (aggressive and high risk) to 5 (more realistic and moderate risk) years. In preparation for the upcoming public meeting and Hearing, we are reviewing the detailed terms of Chevron's offer with our legal counsel. We will share our finding and recommendations in the coming days and weeks.
Please do plan to attend these 2 very important events to weigh in on the proposal for West Coyote Hills. Keep in mind, there will be a formal vote by the City at the Hearing.
Planning Commission Hearing
Thursday, 10/22/15, 7 PM
Fullerton City Hall
The detailed proposal is available on the Fullerton City Website.
The previously scheduled Public Meeting and Planning Commission Hearing for 5/21/15 and 5/27/15 have been postponed. As we mentioned, this is is a complex proposal conditioned on an all important acquisition agreement. The stakeholders agreed that it would be prudent to allow more time to hammer out the details.
The City of Fullerton expects to announce new dates for the Public Meeting and Hearing in the next few week. Stay tuned.
The City of Fullerton and Chevron-Pacific Coast Homes are preparing to unveil the results of the acquisition agreement or “path forward” plan this month. Although the Friends of Coyote Hills has been engaged at a high level since discussions began in June 2013, we have not seen all the details of the final proposal. When we do later this month, we will let you know of our disposition of the proposal. Again, our mission is to save all 510 acres of Coyote Hills for a natural open space park for the community. We expect a feasible acquisition agreement that aligns with our mission.
The City has formally announced this week two upcoming events. On Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 7 PM, there will be a public information session to review the application for a development approval called a Tract Map (click here for the public notice). This will be the input to the May 27, 2015 Planning Commission Hearing to adopt or reject the application that is very importantly conditioned on first allowing the City and the Friends of Coyote Hills a TBD timeframe to come up with TBD funds to acquire West Coyote Hills for a park. The acquisition will be in TBD phases. So acquisition will be given a chance first. If unsuccessful, then the development may proceed.
This is a complex agreement with critical details that are yet to be finalized. In fact those details may not be available until around May 21. As a result, we are unable to express support nor lack of support for the acquisition agreement at this time. However, we absolutely support continuing dialog with the City and Chevron-Pacific Coast Homes to shape the final details.
What do we need from you? Please do plan to attend the May 21 public information session and May 27 Planning Commission Hearing. We plan to provide our recommendations on the proposed agreement to shape the best outcome for saving Coyote Hills. Show your support by showing up!
Planning Commission Hearing
The journey to Save Coyote Hills from development has been long, and has seemed to move slowly at times. We want to outline the current status of the process, and to let you know that we anticipate progress in the coming months. As you know, Fullerton voters overturned the development proposal in 2012. We heard from so many in the community that all 510 acres of West Coyote Hills should be saved as park. That has been and remains the mission of the Friends of Coyote Hills.
In June 2013, Chevron-Pacific Coast Homes, the City of Fullerton and the Friends began discussing the path forward to a resolution. This was highlighted by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) joining the process in October 2013. When TPL ultimately bowed out in July 2014, the City of Fullerton stepped into the buyer role. The City, Chevron-Pacific Coast Homes, and the Friends of Coyote Hills were (and are) committed to continuing the work on the resolution.
Due to the sensitivity nature of the buyer-seller discussion, limited details of the acquisition have been released to the public. However, all parties have continued to actively plan on a win-win resolution. That means an agreement to allow the community a period of time to raise funds to purchase the property in phases to protect all of West Coyote Hills as a park. This agreement also respects Chevron’s rights as the property owner. That is, if the community cannot raise the funds to purchase Coyote Hills at an agreed upon price, then the property owner has the option to move forward with its development proposal.
The Friends of Coyote Hills have been working with the City on funding scenarios to piece together the phased purchase of the property. We are optimistic because we have identified financial resources which, if realized, would allow the City to purchase enough parcels to make a significant open space park in the short term. Longer term there is more work to be done, but there are definite possibilities to accomplish protecting all of Coyote Hills as a park.
Although more details of the agreement remains to be worked out, we are cautiously optimistic with our dialog with Chevron and the City to date. We fully recognize that acquisition of the entire West Coyote Hills is a challenging endeavor as we prepare to focus our efforts on protecting Coyote Hills as park. However, for the first time in the history of this debate, we have the property owner, the City of Fullerton and community at the table working on a plan to protect Coyote Hills as a park.