Fullerton West Coyote Hills Development and Nature Preserve, Measure W (November 2012)

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A Fullerton West Coyote Hills Development and Nature Preserve, Measure W ballot question was on the November 6, 2012 ballot for voters in the City of Fullerton in Orange County, where it was defeated.

The Fullerton City Council approved an ordinance (Ordinance 3169) earlier in the year to allow what is known as the "West Coyote Hills" development to move forward.

The Fullerton City Council, as required by law, arranged for the city attorney to provide an impartial analysis of Measure W. According to that analysis, if Measure W had been approved, "this measure will uphold the Fullerton City Council's adoption of Ordinance No. 3169 approving the Development Agreement between the City and Pacific Coast Homes for the West Coyote Hills (WCH) project."[1]

Pacific Coast Homes is the developer that requested from the city council the right to build the West Coyote Hills Project.

The West Coyote Hills project would cover 510 acres of privately-owned land located west of Euclid Street at the northern edge of Fullerton. This land, according to the city attorney's analysis, "historically was used by Chevron for oil drilling/extraction."[1] It is adjacent to the Ward Nature Preserve, which is owned by the city.

Election results

Measure W
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No27,25360.8%
Yes 17,551 39.2%
Final official results from the Orange County elections office.

Development Agreement

The "Development Agreement" between Fullerton and Pacific Coast Homes that was at the heart of Measure W would, according to the city attorney, "vest the owner's right to develop the WCH project in accordance with existing City land use regulations. In exchange, the Development Agreement requires the owner to provide certain 'Public Benefits' in conjunction with its development."[1]

The specific "public benefits" that Pacific Coast Homes would have been required to provide, if Measure W had been approved, were:

  • Pacific Coast Homes, the developer, must plant "coastal sage scrub and other native trees and plants in the open space areas of the WCH property and the adjacent Ward Nature Preserve."[1]
  • The developer must install "approximately 8 miles of public trails within the open space areas of the WCH property and improvements at 5 'key vista' sites."[1]
  • The developer must design/construct "an interpretive center in the Ward Nature Preserve up to 3,000 square feet in size with an outdoor amphitheater, assembly area, and interpretive nature garden."[1]
  • The developer must "pay endowments to the City and a qualified non-profit entity to cover their respective costs for perpetual maintenance of the open space areas and Ward Nature Preserve."[1]
  • The developer must "donate 2 off-road vehicles to the Police Department and a new fire truck to the Fire Department that are suitable for project-related purposes."[1]
  • The developer must "install street parkway/median landscaping improvements on nearby/adjacent public streets."[1]
  • The developer must improve and upgrade "existing backbone trails in North Fullerton."[1]
  • The developer must pay "a $176,000 'Library Technology Grant' to the city."[1]
  • The developer must pay "a $2,500-4,000 unit 'Development Agreement Fee' to the city."[1]

According to the city attorney's analysis, "In addition to the Development Agreement, in July 2011 the City Council...approved a general plan amendment, zone change, specific plan amendment, and subdivision maps for the WCH project." Those approvals allow the developer to execute its overall plans for the property. These plans, which are detailed in the "development plans" section of this article, include building homes and a retail development on the property.

The city attorney's analysis went on to say, "Those other actions are not the subject of" Measure W.[1] The city attorney concludes that if Measure W is approved, "either party has the right to terminate the Development Agreement and in that circumstance the other project approvals would become null and void."[1]

Development plans

The overall plan by Pacific Coast Homes for the property involved:

  • 760 homes on 180 acres
  • 5 acres of retail development
  • 283 acres of open space for wildlife habitat, public trails and vista parks
  • A 17 acre multiple use site
  • Improvements to the nearby 72-acre Ward Nature Preserve

Support

The "Yes on W" website logo

Supporters

The official voter guide arguments in favor of Measure W were signed by:

  • Sean Fitzgerald, Fullerton Parks and Recreation Commissioner
  • Jim Reed, Former Fullerton Fire Chief
  • Theresa Harvey, President, Fullerton Chamber of Commerce
  • Jack Dean, President, Fullerton Association of Concerned Taxpayers
  • Carolyn Ratzlaff, Teacher of the Year – California Science Teachers Association, Fullerton School District

Arguments in favor

Arguments in favor of Measure W in the official voter guide included:

  • It will allow the opening of the Robert E. Ward Nature Preserve and West Coyote Hills to the public.
  • It will "create Fullerton’s largest Nature Park, nearly three times the size of Craig Park."
  • It will "preserve a majority of privately-owned West Coyote Hills as Natural Open Space with 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, vista points with sweeping views at Fullerton’s highest elevations and a Nature Learning Center for school field trips and family outings."
  • It will be privately funded at no cost to taxpayers.
  • It will create about 2,000 new local jobs and put about $250 million into new economic activity in the area.
  • It will "improve Fire-Fighting Capabilities, Reduce Fire Hazards" by providing "a new water reservoir and fire truck to help the Fire Department fight fires, at no cost to taxpayers, and reduce dangerous fire hazards to neighboring communities."

Other arguments that were made in favor of Measure W included:

  • In its editorial endorsing a "yes" vote on Measure W, the Orange County Register said, "Fullerton voters should use this measure to demonstrate the city's commitment to private property rights, especially in this case, where the private owner has taken into account residents' desire for more open space in its development plan."[2]
  • "The nature center and new trails at West Coyote Hills will offer exciting opportunities for students in Fullerton to learn about and experience nature – right in our own backyard!" (Hilda Sugarman, President, Fullerton School District)[3]
  • "This project moving forward is the ONLY way to guarantee a majority of the privately owned property will be preserved as public open space at no cost to taxpayers." (Theresa Harvey, President, Fullerton Chamber of Commerce)[3]

Opposition

The "No on W" website logo

Opponents

The official voter guide arguments against Measure W were signed by:

  • Helen Higgins, President of the Friends of Coyote Hills
  • Greta Nagel, Director, Museum of Teaching and Learning
  • Annik Ramsey, Instructor of Anthropology, Fullerton College
  • Jane Rands, Engineer and Community Leader
  • Ellis Y. Cha, Chairman, Korean American Association of North Orange County
  • Dr. Stewart Shanfield, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon in Fullerton, Fullerton resident

Arguments against

Arguments against Measure W on the "No on W" website included:

  • "The city forecasted Chevron's development will add 9,300 additional car trips a day to our local streets. No new streets are planned! If you drive on Beach, Imperial, Gilbert, Euclid, Harbor, Bastanchury, Rosecrans, Commonwealth or any streets near those, you will be impacted with more traffic."
  • "This development is so big that Fullerton does not have enough water for it. Fullerton has to purchase water from another city and another water district to address the water shortage. The City acknowledges that this purchase agreement does not guarantee a fixed or minimum water supply and is temporary. When supplies run short or when the agreement ends, there is no guarantee our water bills won’t go up."
  • "More than 1,000 additional students will be added to our schools if Chevron gets its way. No new schools are planned, only budget cuts."
  • "During the 15 years of planned construction, residents will be assaulted by dirt, dust, chemical residue, noise and pollution from Chevron’s development. Our children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to air pollution."
  • "Chevron’s development is a safety hazard for residents. The California Geological Survey declared the hills to be one of the worst potential earthquake hazards in California."

Other arguments made against Measure W included:

  • Angela Chen Lindstrom of the "A Better Fullerton – No On Measure W, Friends of Coyote Hills" organization, says, "Fullerton is already more than $250 million in arrears in infrastructure maintenance. A regional park alleviates the infrastructure burdens a massive development will add."[4]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Measure W: "Shall Ordinance No. 3169, entitled "An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Fullerton, California, Approving a Development Agreement Between Pacific Coast Homes and the City of Fullerton Pursuant to California Government Code Sections 65864 Through 65869.5 or Property Located at 2701 Rosecrans Avenue That Provides Public Benefits to the City of Fullerton, Including Dedication of Approximately 283 Acres of Open Space, Endowment for Habitat Management, Support Grant for Perpetual Maintenance of Recreation Facilities and Other Benefits in Exchange for Granting the Property Owner a Vested Right to Build the Project in Accordance with Approved Plans," be adopted?"[5]

Path to the ballot

Measure W was on the ballot because opponents of the proposed West Coyote Hills Development collected signatures on petitions to overturn the decision of the Fullerton City Council to approve the Development Agreement. This process is known as a veto referendum.

The group that led the charge to collect the approximately 40,000 signatures needed to put Measure W on the ballot was called the "Friends of Coyote Hills."

See also

External links

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