Can Coyote Hills Be Saved?


Widely misunderstood...

As part of its project mitigation planning, the Orange County Transportation Authority’s Measure M program has sequestered a huge pile ‘o cash, something in the neighborhood of $200,000,000. The purpose of this dough is to procure sensitive habitat from private property owners who might have development plans.

Naturally, the West Coyote Hills property was on the initial list, until removed by its owners last year. Chevron likely thought their plans for development were in the bag in 2010.

It wasn’t, and now it’s 2011. And apparently the OCTA is re-opening consideration of applications for the first funding from the mitigation fund. Chevron has until Jan 13, to file an application to the OCTA if they want to participate in the program.

Chevron may believe they now have 3 secure votes to approve what the Council denied last June. And they may still prefer to face long years of entitlement, inevitable lawsuits, and two or three embarrassing economic cycles in order to make a big profit. Or perhaps upon further reflection, they might come to realize that selling part or all of their property for a big payday up front without mitigation cost and without dragged out development issues, is preferable.

The Fullerton City Council might want to consider this too, and help persuade Chevron to take this alternate path. Bruce Whitaker, for one, has an excellent opportunity to make this overture.

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  1. #1 by Larry Teeters on January 5, 2011

    From what I’ve read about Whitaker I’d be surprised if he ignored this issue. But, I can see the old farts ignoring a gift horse staring them in the face. Good post Admin.

  2. #2 by Chris Thompson on January 5, 2011

    I’m sick of the phrase “Save Coyote Hills.” It’s not in danger. The proposed development was an excellent use of the property which included spectacularly generous features for the entire community. Why we would want to use taxpayer’s money, whether it’s already been earmarked or not, to keep this project from moving forward is beyond me.

    • #3 by Get A Clue on January 5, 2011

      Well that’s your (untutored) opinion.

      What’s spectacular about getting an upzone from the City that increases the value of your land a thousand fold – then “giving” something back?

      That kind of thinking is dinosauric.

      • #4 by Johnny Donut on January 5, 2011

        So a zone change is a gift from government that automatically obligates some sort of reciprocation from the property owner?

        I wonder what causes that viewpoint over the converse: that the inherent value of the land to its owner is diminished by government-imposed zoning restrictions, and that the owner is rightfully free to enjoy the full use of his property, as long as he can convince the government that he is not intruding on the rights of his neighbors, via due process (in this case, a zone change).

        • #5 by Get A Clue on January 5, 2011

          No. The zone change is neither a gift nor is it automatic in itself or in any reciprocal obligations. But it is a public recognition that there is also public benefit that inheres in the granting of that zone change. It’s up to the legislative body to determine the nature of that benefit.

          Alas, the zoning restrictions were imposed on that property (mineral extraction) 50 years ago, or more.

          When you accept land use zoning you accept that there will be a governmental process for changing it; and that process will involve deal-making with the people’s representatives. There is no right to a zone change.

      • #6 by Johnny Donut on January 5, 2011

        In other words, the value of a zone change is nobody’s business. A proposed change is either right or wrong based on the impact to everyone else’s rights.

        • #7 by Get A Clue on January 5, 2011

          I would agree with that as a theoretical proposition. However, it’s a tough sell to the public when they see a project that entail lots of negative externalities get approved and the developers thereof score big time.

          It’s an inescapable fact of economies to scale that the bigger the development and its attendant impacts, the bigger the profit margin.

  3. #8 by Chris Thompson on January 5, 2011

    I have an idea. The city can sell Fox bonds to raise the necessary $20 million to complete the Fox, collateralize the Fox as an instrument to borrow $300 million to buy back Coyote Hills. We can make signs that say, “Help the Fox save the Coyotes.” Nelson will donate the first $10K to the movement.

    • #9 by Anonymous on January 8, 2011

      Shhhhh…. Don’t let the cat out of the bag just yet!

  4. #10 by W. Snow Hume on January 5, 2011

    Second try to post: The Summit House Restaurant was built on “blighted” oil field land, formerly belonging to Texaco, that was turned into an RDA “project area.” That provides a clear precedent for the RDA to declare the Chevron corner area “blighted” and then to subsidize the creation of a restaurant, hospitality & “native fauna garden”. I am sure that there is some way that the condemnation power to RDA could be used to deprive Chevron of a portion of the value of its property, all the while financing the purchase with the OCTA money. (If RDA did not, it would not be fair to all of the other owners of commercial property in Fullerton who have been “shaken down” to sell at a discount to the RDA or its “development partners”.) In honor of “historic preservation” of mid-Century modern architecture, there should be “adaptive re-use” of the buildings- portion of the Chevron facility. [There should be a "interpretive" historical section to talk about what was done there by Chevron. And believe me, it is historically significant.] Further, re-use of buildings, as a general rule, is the most “green” of all kinds of architecture and development.
    I don’t think that it would be difficult to create a “super-habitat” for both Coyotes as well as mountain lions. With proper design and set-backs, the animals will not be afraid to come out and look at people, while they are eating whatever they eat. I know that the coyotes on my ranch are quite arrogant, and stare you in the eyes, while they chomp on your Rhode Island Reds.
    With all due respect to Mr. Thompson’s suggestion that collateral financing be used to save the foxes: The Red Fox is not endangered; it is not even the indigenous canine — the coyote is. I think that it would be ecologically misguided to “save the Fox” for that reason. They have as much right to habitat preservation as does a Llama or Ostrich charasmatic “mega-fauna” that no one wants to harm, but who can infringe on traditional habitats. Instead, the focus on a “Chevron Nature Park & Subsidized Restaurant” should be on raccoons, possums, etc. that relate to the coyote’s and mountain lion’s food cycle.
    I have never seen coyotes like the ones in the photo above. Growing up in Fullerton, and while there as an adult, I never saw anything different from what we have out here in Wonder Valley: yellowish-brown coats with no markings, only slightly less brown than the mountain lions.
    Best wishes, WSH

    • #11 by Chris Thompson on January 5, 2011

      Snow might be right.

  5. #12 by nipsey on January 5, 2011

    Johnny Donut :as long as he can convince the government that he is not intruding on the rights of his neighbors, via due process (in this case, a zone change).

    Which is precisely what Chevron failed to do, if you recall the objections were related to things like phantom water supply agreements, what was Nelson’s phrase, “has anyone asked Whittier?” And La Habra, who was named as party to a complex water deal has since explicitly said no.

    Does zoning allow or prevent you from doing something? I supposed if you pine for the lawless wild west (or closely related modern day corporate hegemony) you might be inclined to lean one way on that, which if not dinosauric, is at least Daniel Plainviewish.

    • #13 by Johnny Donut on January 5, 2011

      Call me prehistoric if you want. It doesn’t bother me.

      Either a man has a right to use his property, subject to restrictions (zoning) or government has a right to all land, and only permits men to do what government wishes.

      Given our constitution guarantees us the right to “property” and does not convey any rights to government itself, I submit that zoning is a restriction on man and not a gift from government.

      • #14 by Get A Clue on January 5, 2011

        Johnny you are arguing with yourself.

        That “subject to restrictions” is the very essence of governmental control of land use.

        The right to use property is limited in any civil society by practice or by statute. The key is to make those limitations commonsensical and fair to the property owner. And yet the interest of the community is undeniable or there wouldn’t be any limitations established in the first place.

        • #15 by Johnny Donut on January 5, 2011

          No, I was arguing with Nipsey, who vaguely stated that zoning is a gift bestowed rather than restriction on an inherent right. Note that I did not claim that restrictions are wrong. I only defined them as such. You and I seem to agree.

      • #16 by nipsey on January 5, 2011

        Well, pull up a seat next to the gun nuts and anyone else who falls into the general category of people unhappy with 200+ years of jurisprudence.

        It is pretty funny to see someone defend Chevron based on the unfairness of ‘the game’ when Chevron has spent decades not only playing but stacking the deck of said game.

        • #17 by Johnny Donut on January 5, 2011

          I never defended Chevron. I never even commented on their situation. I merely challenged the notion that the community has an automatic right to a piece of another man’s re-zoned pie.

  6. #18 by Feronia on January 5, 2011

    Silly hope. Everyone knows we run our city by the motto,
    “Whatever we can do great, we’ll do mediocre.”

  7. #19 by chamy on January 5, 2011

    The people who know says that the land needs to be toxic free before anything happen. That means if not, toxic water consumption for residents who would settle there. May be the first thing is to prove the safety of the site for human consumption. And after that all the grandeur green city construction can happen. But I think there should be a vote although it is privately owned. Preserving wild life and last piece of OC wild life is worth in my opinion. Growth is needed. But at what cost?

    • #20 by Anonymous on January 8, 2011

      The last peice of OC wild life??? There is this place called EAST OC. Its wild and a big chunck of it is National Forest land. Check it out sometime. OC has plenty of wild life; you just have to leave your neighborhood bubble and latte stand to find it.

  8. #21 by compton on January 5, 2011

    anyone who supports this plan can not be called a republican, the tax revenue turned down was enormous, and now they wanna dump more tax money into this for a bunch of freakin NIMBYs!!! Shameful, that’s what this is. Shame on Shawn Nelson!

    • #22 by Joe Sipowicz on January 5, 2011

      More tax money? What are you talking about you idiot?

      • #23 by Zippy on January 6, 2011

        What’s a NIMBY?

        • #24 by From Wikipedia on January 6, 2011

          NIMBY or Nimby is an acronym for the phrase not in my back yard. The term (or the derivative Nimbyism) is used pejoratively to describe opposition by residents to a proposal for a new development close to them. Opposing residents themselves are sometimes called Nimbies. The term was coined in 1980 by Emilie Travel Livezey, and was popularized by British politician Nicholas Ridley, who was Conservative Secretary of State for the Environment.

  9. #25 by nipsey on January 5, 2011

    Who’s notion was that?

  10. #26 by W. Snow Hume on January 5, 2011

    In response to blogger Compton: “the tax revenue turned down was enormous”. Developments don’t necessarily result in long-term tax revenues. No one doubts that the purchase of materials and services for the development can result in a lot of one-time sales tax revenues. Query: will these be allocated to where the materials are used, or to the place of purchase? Anyway, without a significant commercial developmental element to the proposed development, there will not be long-term sales taxes to benefit the local governments. And the sales taxes generated by residents will not necessarily flow into the coffers of the jurisdictions where the development lies, because they are free to shop all over the place. As for sales taxes generated by the commercial element of any proposed development plan, as a general rule, those will be “captured” by putting the commercial sections into an RDA “project area”. In turn, any property tax growth gets automatically diverted to RDA, and becomes unavailable for City, County and school district use. [Review California Constitution, Article XVI, and the law of "property tax increment financing" of RDAs.] So the net residential property tax which is generated in the future from the project, added together with the “captured” sales taxes from the commercial portion, may not be as enormous as one hopes, after all. Now, here is the next step in the analysis: how much will general city, county and local school district expenditures have to increase because of the new residents and infrastructure? The difference, for each affected local government, between the “enormous” amount of new revenue, and the cost for services related to whatever and whoever produces that revenue, is the “governmental profit” from the project. As often as not, some local governments lose big-time, while others gain. It is a glorified accounting exercise. I hope it is clear enough, that a city’s use of its “gate-keeping” power as a zoning and development authority, give its great influence or impact over the fiscal situations of other local governments who have no say in approving the project. And the more that a city uses RDA “project areas”, then the more that property tax revenues will be diverted from their traditional local governmental recipients. The truth be told, the City of Fullerton could put the entire “Chevron facility Re-Use” project into an RDA “project area”, and effectively screw the County and local school districts out of future property taxes, while these local governments are saddled with increased costs.
    I am not saying that blogger Compton is incorrect, that the original plan would have resulted in an enormous amount of prospective tax revenue. I merely write to make sure that everyone is following the same money trails, in light of RDA’s potential for a diversionary impact on the future property tax stream, while simultaneously drawing in a disproportionate amount of sales tax into the City’s coffers.
    Best wishes, WSH

    • #27 by Don't Look Under the Bridge on January 6, 2011

      W. Snow, you err in accepting “compton” as anything but a recurring, ignorant Hairy Sidhu troll.

      Property tax revenues from housing projects are generally neutral to the City for the services they provide. In some cases added burden to infrastructure is unloaded on everybody else.

      The jobs created (apart from more pension-pulling City employees) created by Coyote Hills would be temporary construction jobs lasting a few months and given to low-educated non-English speaking residents of the Inland Empire.

      BTW, Coyote Hills residents that shop in Fullerton would spend money here; just as likely they would spend it in La Habra, Buena Park, and Brea.

      Coyote Hills is not contemplated as a Redevelopment project (not yet, anyway).

  11. #28 by Weapons of ...... on January 6, 2011

    I find it amusing that we Americans are willing to spend time and money to save things like Coyotes in an urban setting, yet we’re so quick to go to war.

  12. #29 by compton on January 7, 2011

    so i was correct, an enormous amount of tax revenue was turned down, it just maybe wasnt going to go to the people or government agencies that you like? Lets review the facts of what was admitted in these last few posts. Jobs were killed(not all would be low paying manuel labor to IE Hispanics, thats a hyperbole) , large tax revenues were killed, and politicians did bow to the pressure of the NIMBY’s. I also think most of the resident’s sales taxes would have gone to Fullerton. Its called progress people.

    • #30 by Joe Sipowicz on January 7, 2011

      You were not correct. You’ve never been correct. You are a miniature assclown – a piece of lint left behind when Hairball Sidu dropped his boxerbriefs because they chaffed too much.

      • #31 by Fred Alcazar on January 7, 2011

        Poor, sad compton. Won’t you ever get tired of having your ass kicked by a one-armed drunk?

  13. #32 by W. Snow Hume on January 7, 2011

    In response to Blogger COMPTON: I did not admit that there was an enormous amount of taxes that would be lost if the proposed residential project were cancelled. I simply said that there is a large prospective accounting exercise for future property tax and sales tax revenues, and that it has not been laid before all of us. I am sure that mor than one local government has these projections.
    Here’s a NIMBY riddle for you: “What do M-3 Zoned parcels and Crack Whores have in common?” Answer: “Every community wants the benefits from them without having to admit to it, and NIMBY!!”

  14. #33 by Anonymous on January 8, 2011

    How about instead of requiring mandatory set-asides for parks, let’s require mandatory set-asides for commercial space?

    As Hume stated, there was no major commercial component of the WCH. However, the amount of commercial space proposed appeared to be sufficient considering the NIMBYs and Eco-Wackos were getting there set-asides.

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