Open Coyote Hills remains committed to working with all parties to achieve a positive outcome that balances community interests and private property rights. We think the framework agreement announced by the City will result in a successful outcome and finally bring a positive resolution to this issue.
Following are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about the West Coyote Hills project:
Does Chevron have a legal right to develop a portion of its West Coyote Hills property as long as it complies with all city, state and federal regulations?
Yes, we feel it does. That’s why we’ve chosen to collaborate with city leaders and Chevron for many years to prepare the best plan possible for Fullerton.
What provides Chevron the right to develop?
In 1977 a Contractual Agreement was signed between Fullerton and Chevron for its West Coyote Hills property. The Agreement is the foundational document for this issue – even today.
The Agreement allowed Chevron to rely on an approved Master Specific Plan (also approved in 1977) to control and guide future development of a low density community at West Coyote Hills.
In exchange, the Agreement required three things of Chevron:
- First, to provide a right-of-way through its property so the city could extend Gilbert St. into La Habra;
- Second, to dedicate trails to the city, and
- Third, to sell 38 acres of land to Fullerton at a price that was below market value. That land became a part of the Robert E. Ward Nature Preserve.
Chevron has met its obligations under this contractual agreement, and the city has benefited from this agreement.
In turn, we feel the city must grant Chevron the right to develop a plan that is consistent with the Agreement and approved Master Specific Plan, or be in breach of contract.
How does Measure W impact the current decision-making process?
Measure W provides the City with options on how to move forward. Our hope is for our city to pursue a solution that would not result in Chevron needing to pursue a legal remedy through the courts in order to protect its rights. If that were to happen, we believe city leaders would have a difficult time explaining to a judge why they accepted property from Chevron for the Robert E Ward Nature Preserve, and built a road through Chevron’s land, and then decided to NOT allow Chevron to build according to the signed Agreement and approved plans. A judgment against the city would result in damages that could bankrupt Fullerton.
How would the plan you support provide recreational and educational benefits to Fullerton?
The West Coyote Hills plan we support calls for 55 percent of the property to be preserved and deeded to the city at no cost to taxpayers. It would also finally open the city-owned Robert E. Ward Nature Preserve, bringing the total new open space available for public use to 350 acres – three times the size of Fullerton’s next largest park (Craig Park).
The West Coyote Hills Interpretive Master Plan, which 40 Fullerton residents helped to create, details how the property could be used by trail users, students and nature lovers.
The developer also proposes to provide millions of dollars for the long-term maintenance of the habitat and proposed recreational amenities, including trails and vista parks because the City does not want to assume this financial responsibility, given its budget restraints. The combination of free land, funding for improvements and funding for long-term maintenance would finally allow the land to be enjoyed by Fullerton residents.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission recommended approval of this balanced vision during a public hearing held in July 2009. (Source: Parks and Recreation meeting minutes.)
How did the city acquire the 72-acre Robert E. Ward Nature Preserve?
More than half of the land was donated to the City by Chevron. The other half was purchased at below market value. (Source: West Coyote Hills Nature Park History, prepared by the City of Fullerton.) Unfortunately, the city has not had the necessary funding to open the land for the public to enjoy. The proposed West Coyote Hills plan would provide the funding necessary to open the land and provide for its long-term maintenance.
Will the project have severe impacts on local roads?
Not according to a City study and the City’s Transportation and Circulation commission. The facts:
- The City’s Environmental Impact Report looked at 32 intersections near the property and concluded a low-density community at West Coyote Hills would not create significant impacts to our local roads. (Source: EIR study.)
[UPDATE: An Orange County Superior Court judge has upheld the City's EIR. Click here to read the ruling.]
- The City’s Transportation and Circulation Commission voted 5-1 to recommend approval of the plan. They confirmed what the EIR study found – that West Coyote Hills will not be a significant burden on local roads. (Source: Traffic commission meeting minutes.)
Why? Because West Coyote Hills is a proposed low-density residential community and nature preserve. This type of development generates fewer traffic impacts than almost any other land-use.
Isn’t there a fault line that runs underneath the property?
Yes, but it also runs underneath the entire Los Angeles basin and most of Fullerton. Because West Coyote Hills will be built in compliance with the most current version of the California Building code it should be safer than older Fullerton neighborhoods in an earthquake. (Source: WCH EIR response to comments regarding the Puente Hills Blind Thrust — see pages 37-39.)
What does the City’s General Plan call for at West Coyote Hills?
The General Plan designation for West Coyote Hills is “Greenbelt Concept” and calls for homes to be grouped together so open space can be preserved. Under the General Plan, about 1,100 homes could be built at West Coyote Hills. (Source: City of Fullerton General Plan — see page LU-38.)
The proposed plan is consistent with the city’s General Plan and includes about 33 percent fewer homes – helping to reduce impacts on the environment and local roadways and schools.
Would the proposed community be located over the McColl superfund site?
No. The McColl superfund site is located south of Rosecrans Avenue. West Coyote Hills is located north of Rosecrans Avenue. The McColl site has been successfully remediated. (Source: EPA Web site.)
Is it safe to build homes on a former oil field?
Yes. Many former oil fields throughout southern Californian cities — including Fullerton, Brea, Yorba Linda, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach — have been successfully and safely developed into new communities. (Source: California Department of Conservation Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources.)
Remediation of West Coyote Hills will comply with the most current abandonment requirements of the Division of Oil and Gas. This process will be overseen and approved by the Orange County Health Care Agency. Remediation will also be consistent with the city zoning code 15.22.140 which provides city-approved guidelines for abandoning an oil field.
Will future homeowners at West Coyote Hills have to worry about an oil producer drilling a well in their backyard?
No. If any new oil operation was ever to occur at West Coyote Hills, it would have to comply with the city’s zoning ordinance that dictates where wells can and cannot be located – including the requirement that they cannot be placed near structures.
A good example is Fullerton’s East Coyote Hills, a community where oil production continues today. In this community, there are identified “drilling islands” where wells can be located.
Is there enough water to serve the project without impacting existing Fullerton residents?
The City’s Environmental Impact Report for West Coyote Hills concluded that water is available to serve the new residents. (Source: Draft EIR Public Services and Utilities Section.)
Also, city staff confirmed during public hearings that Fullerton could currently service the 760-home project without incurring a higher “penalty rate” for water purchased from Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which could result in the City having to raise rates on existing customers. (Note: MWD is considering removing the “penalty rate.”)
What’s being done to ensure that existing residents don’t have to pay more for water as a result of the project?
West Coyote Hills will be the first project in Fullerton to come with its own water supply that can be utilized to avoid a rate increase for existing residents. This supplemental source of water was secured by Pacific Coast Homes in response to community feedback. (Source: West Coyote Hills Water Delivery Agreement.)
What water conservation measures are being incorporated into the project?
The West Coyote Hills sustainability plan calls for a variety of conservation measures that will reduce water use by about 25 percent. Specific measures, include:
- Drought-tolerant plant materials in all common open spaces, including parkway islands, entries and slopes,
- Evapotranspiration (or weather-based controllers) will be used for irrigation in all common areas to reduce water use.
- Builders will be encouraged to offer drought-tolerant and native plans in residential yards as an option.
West Coyote Hills will also comply with AB 1881 – a recently passed model landscape ordinance designed to reduce water use. (Source: http://www.cityoffullerton.com/depts/dev_serv/planning_/zoning/new_ordinance.asp.)
Will West Coyote Hills be a “sustainable community?”
We think West Coyote Hills will be one of the most “green” communities ever built in North Orange County.
Outside the home: The natural environment at West Coyote Hills will actually be enhanced as a result of a plan prepared in consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to restore, preserve and maintain the land. The result: There will be more quality habitat on the property after development than exists today. (Source: EIR Biological Resources — see page 4.12-47.)
Inside the home: The new community will comply with the first-in-the nation green building standards recently passed in California – called “CalGreen.” Among the new requirements under CalGreen: every new building in California will have to reduce water consumption by 20 percent, divert 50 percent of construction waste from landfills and install low VOC materials. According to the California Air Resources Board, the mandatory provisions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3,000,000 metric tons by 2020. (Source: Green Technology Magazine Interview with Dave Walls, executive director of the California Building Standards Commission.)
Nature center: The plan’s nature center will be Fullerton’s first LEED GOLD certified building in Fullerton, serving as a sustainability showcase for the city. It will also be a place students of all ages can come to learn about and be inspired by the natural environment.