Coyote Hills; The Last Piece of Chevron’s Pie

Great things happen over an al fresco meal of fresh veg accompanied by gin & tonic.ginimages
As we looked out over the valley, we remembered the time one would drive up Beach Blvd. and is soon as you hit Rosecrans, darkness would descend until you hit Imperial. There was nothing there. But of course, in the name of progress there are houses and apartments there now. Dusk was settling over La Habra Heights –a great thing to see since you can still see the hills. No home is allowed to build above the ridgeline. And then we talked about the work of a sainted few in faraway La Habra Heights, who saved a special place called Powder Canyon.

Which brought us to the issue of Coyote Hills and the small group of people who have been trying to get our attention with their hand painted signs on Euclid and Bastanchury. You see, they get no respect. Which is a painful thing because damn….they’ve been toiling for so freakin’ long.

But of course this is the problem. Because if you’re going to do work of this sort sometimes taking the meek respectable posture isn’t the way to go.

Sometimes you just have to be all out –well, “Heightsian” for lack of a more diplomatic word.

Seems to us that the problem with the whole Coyote Hills fandangle is that this sucker wasn’t put to bed long ago.

300hThat’s right, a lack of vision has hindered what seems to us to be an obvious move.

Chevron has owned the land bordered by Beach, Rosecrans, Imperial and Euclid since before you or I were born. They have drilled, pumped, done research and in the process not only made money here, but also used the research to help make more money elsewhere.

Now, we could get rely on the spinal cord reaction and say “property owner’s rights to do whatever they damn well please,” but that’s not our style. When Chevron pulled out, they left behind a large parcel of undeveloped land behind what was then their research HQ.

Since the mid 1990’s, the area has been graded, millions of cubic yards of dirt have been moved and the result was not one, but at least three housing developments on Rosecrans, Beach, and Euclid, but also the addition of big outdoor shopping center.

So what we have in Fullerton is the very last parcel of undeveloped land. No orange groves have been planted –it’s pretty much in its natural state.

coyote-hills

So we ask, why do they need to build more homes? Looking at the big picture, they’ve already built enough. And looking at our real estate ads, there are no shortage of homes for sale. It’s not the money. They get $40 bucks from us each time we fill up the tank. Multiply this by 4, that’s $160 a month. Then do that by twelve and yes, it’s Chevron easily can take in $1200 a year from on individual (since a lot of Fullertonians don’t take either the bus or the train).

Why not leave this last parcel of land as it is –for us to enjoy? What we say is…. no houses. We’re not willing to concede a single foot of that land to build more houses.

If you think this is outrageous, well, maybe it is. But what’s even more crazy is that acoyotemedium_CAPTURED_COYOTE high percentage of people here have little connection to nature whatsoever. Their lives are drive, mall, mall, internet, mall, mall, restaurant, drive… oh what the hell.

Besides, after the development of all the lands around Bastanchury and Brea Boulevard, quite frankly ….we’re on the side of those two scrawny coyotes that come out every day at 4 p.m. looking for food and water.

Alas, we could have offered them gin and tonic. But we know better than that.

17 Replies to “Coyote Hills; The Last Piece of Chevron’s Pie”

    1. “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
      Margaret Mead

  1. O missk, pretty much in its natural state? Have you been paying attention? That land is messed up from years of pumping that oil we pay so dearly for. It’s natural like a city dump with weeds on top. Lose the romance with what’s not there and make them pay to give us back the nature you worship.

  2. Sure, anonymously informed neighbor!
    Make them clean the freakin’ thing up! Has this even been discussed? Were there door to door canvassing –an impossible feat, but believe me, it’s been done.

    In fact, because you’ve brought it up, anonymously informed neighbor, I’m going to put you in charge. There it’s done. Congratulations. You got the freakin’ job. And lucky for us.. we have your cookies!! Yes, we are nefarious evil doers.

    Of course, this takes being a total pain the ass.
    My question is…. do Fullertonians have what it takes?
    Because the impression we’ve been getting is that no –it just seems too big an issue to tackle.* So what Fullertonians are willing to settle for are homes built upon the “city dump with weeds” (your words). Because it’s more acceptable to you, anonymously informed neighbor, to let some kids grow up atop a pile of dreck and shit.

    Frankly, this blog welcomes those who have been trying to save Coyote Hills to blog about it. Why not?

    We haven’t bit since Harpoon got his new boat. He’s so happy. He even wags his tail.

  3. missk, make sure you let the City Council know that this is not a “property rights issue.” Land use entitlements that include zone changes and GP changes are not “rights.” They are essentially changes to the law made by the people through their representatives and that presumably confer benefits back onto the public. This land is zoned for oil/gas extraction, if I am not mistaken. And there’s not a nickel’s worth of reason to change it except to make Chevron et al even richer than they already are. Oh, yeah and of course because of how much money they have spilled into the campaign coffers of the City Council.

    We’ve got the idiot Jones on video claiming how he wants rich people to occupy estates on this land! Is that what the people of Fullerton want? Maybe it is!

    Here’s a thought: lets ask Quirk, Nelson, Jones and Bankhead (& Keller, too) how much they have received over the years from Chevron and its lobbyists, consultants, etc., etc. for their re-election campaigns.

  4. Thanks Shadow.
    I hope the shopping trip to Bloomingdales with your huge CFFF check was satisfactory. Harpoon bought a boat with his. I’ve been in Manhattan with mine.

    Yanno, we really would like to have the people who have quietly fought for Coyote Hills to contact Admin about coming on and telling us what’s going on. Why do they perceive their efforts have fallen short since they started years ago?

    But frankly, no land battle can proceed without not only concern, but outrage. And if that wasn’t there from the start, then it’s difficult to get a movement going.

  5. If this isn’t a property rights issue, it’s only because zoning law stripped away those rights from all of us a long time ago. Somebody owned that land long before the government decided that it could only be used for oil extraction. Sucks for them.

    But since we live under a differnet set of rules now, all we can do is make sure that the laws are applied equally to everyone. If Chevron is getting favors in return for their lobbying efforts, it needs to be called out.

    1. Travis, I wouldn’t use the term “stripped.” Ever since people got together they’ve had laws governing what individuals could do with their property. The trick is to not let the laws go nuts. When it does you generally have a revolution of some sort.

      It doesn’t “suck” for Chevron. Granting the entitlements of a zone change would increase the value of that property a thousand-fold. Chevron has done absolutely nothing to increase the value of its property except lobby Fullerton’s politicans. And that potential land value is not a right in any sense. Consider the East Coyote Hills. What did they do over there to make the value of their oil and gas property multiply by an order of magnitude? They made campaign contributions and bought off the staff with the mega-developer fees they paid into the General Fund. Everybody else got stuck with the “negative externalities” like traffic, more kids in schools, more taxing of infrastructure, etc.

  6. Travis :

    Somebody owned that land long before the government decided that it could only be used for oil extraction. Sucks for them.

    The land probably belonged to some indigenous people who got thrown in prison for not paying a property tax bill. Then along comes Chevron who raped the land. Have you seen what they did to what was once a canyon? Chevron has made perhaps hundreds of millions from the oil they extracted from that site. Greed is a bad thing!

    One way or another, we are all care takers. I’d say Chevron did a lousy job taking care of that land. An option could be that Chevron could auction the land for sale “as is” and see what it’s worth! I start the bid at $1.00

  7. Okay, Travis, now I”m going to to way back. 19 years ago, when Chevron was probably at the point of knowing they were going to pull out of La Habra and no doubt were putting the plan together of what the parcel bordered by Beach, Rosecrans, Euclid and Imperial would be, they did a survey of local citizens who lived in La Habra, East Whittier and La Habra Heights. I remember this because among the questions were “How would you rate the image of Chevron as stewards of the environment?”

    So this whole plan has been in play for a very long time. They not only made good with the politicians and various committees in Fullerton, but did the same with the cities of La Habra and most likely Buena Park to make this “masterplan” come to fruition.

    While Anonymous Informed Neighbor claims that the land is a toxic city dump, I remember that people brought out the same exact claims against Powder Canyon. And while she made that claim, none of the persons I spoke with today described it in those terms. And besides, even if it were, Chevron would still be liable for cleaning it up whether or not there were homes or if it were left intact.

    That somebody who decided the land should only be used for oil extraction was Chevron ..and that was long ago. It didn’t suck for them, they made their millions!

    Shadow, that information is public record. I’m sure there’s already someone who knows. Maybe even the people who worked hard against Coyote Hills.

    What I’m betting is that they just never had the right people in place to tell them how to frame things.

    Who knows? Maybe they’ll step up to the plate and contact the Admin. If they do, it’s a signal they’re sincere. If they don’t, then perhaps it’s lost steam because they wanted it that way. I don’t know.

    1. “That somebody who decided the land should only be used for oil extraction was Chevron ..and that was long ago. It didn’t suck for them, they made their millions!”

      This could be true. When zoning was put in place the oil companies and people who had sold mineral rights to them may have paid less in property tax with the OG zoning than other designations. And it made sense since the hills were covered with derricks – nobody would have wanted to live there.

  8. Harpoon, regarding the the lobbyists, dubious campaign contributions, special favors for the politically connected, shilling and back scratching — these are all repercussions for giving the government too much control over property rights.

    I don’t know when Fullerton enacted zoning laws, but I don’t think they were too prevalent until the beginning of the 20th century. Presumably someone owned the land BEFORE the city gave itself the power to tell him what he could do with the land. I’m only bringing this up because I don’t think you can have a discussion about property rights without recognizing how those rights have become increasingly limited as the government grows.

    But since we’ve been living under this system for our entire lifetimes, most land owners have learned how to play by rules and still be productive. We’ve become accustomed to complaining about the negative externalities, but we have lived with them for so long that we have forgotten the root cause.

    So back to the issue at hand – there are numerous complaints above about the way Chevron has handled it’s property. If Chevron sold the land to another party, who then wanted to build on it, would you make the same arguments? You would no longer be able to say “They’ve already made enough money”. The question would change from “who” to “what”, which is the direction that the discussion should be heading. Ultimately, the reasoning behind the zoning change should stand no matter who is requesting it. When you bought gas from a Chevron station over the last 30 years, you were making a voluntary exchange for a commodity that you were not willing to extract and refine yourself – nothing more, nothing less. They don’t owe you anything more than the gas that you already burned up.

  9. You are correct that the issue that they have made enough money is not relevant to the discussion of development, per se, although it is one that resonnates when it comes to how much property value one may be entitled to.

    The question of infringement is not one of absolutes but of degree – how far should a government be able to circumscribe an individuals ability to enjoy his property. In the case of this property I would argue that the issue has been resolved – a long, long time ago. Zoning laws in Fullerton were enacted 80-90 years ago.

    I also believe that how they have handled their property is not really relevant either. If they’ve poisoned it it needs to be (and must be) cleaned up prior to a developer buying a chunk of it.

    So what we get back to is this: any development accompanying a zone/GP amendment should be accompanied by some comensurate benefit to those granting the entitlement (us).

    BTW, the issue of title is a fascinating subject in itself. The land that is the Coyote Hills was appropriated by the King of Spain (under the authority of God, presumably,) was within the sphere of influence of the Mission San Juan, and was divvied up in the Rancho use grants by the secularized Mexican government. Those grants were later confirmed by the US land commission in the 1850s after the Mexican- American war and yankee land grab.

    So admin has a point.

  10. Fullerton doesn’t have the money to maintain the parks they have let alone add another huge one. The people of Fullerton already have huge public debt and unfunded pension obligations that will wreck the city. Chevron did a great job of developing the hills that they already have. The open space and trails are far and above the quality of similar trails and open space that the City of Fullerton currently maintains. This is private property. Property rights are fundamental to our republic. Those opposed are reactionary leftist troglodites that just want to oppose anything new or modern.

    1. Victor, finally a voice of reason. Very well said, particularly, “Property rights are fundamental to our republic.” Also, if Harpoon and Admin want to complain about how Chevron has managed the land, should the City of Fullerton also then be chastised for not being able to maintain the Robert Ward Nature Preserve?
      And Travis, keep the logic coming.

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