Chevron Sues Fullerton Over Coyote Hills

Last week Pacific Coast Homes, a subsidiary of Chevron Texaco, filed suit against the city of Fullerton for it’s recent denial of the West Coyote Hills development project.

Down boy

The suit was preceded by a claim for damages of “$1,000,000 plus” in which Chevron says Fullerton is responsible for breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, violating the civil rights act, and a few other things expressed in legal mumbo-jumbo beyond the vocabulary of this blogger.

If you feel like wading through it yourself, here is the claim and the complaint:

View the Coyote Hills lawsuit

So it looks like Chevron is attempting to apply pressure prior to bringing the project back in front of what will likely be a more favorable city council in 2011. I’ve also heard that the suit was preceded by Chevron making no-so-veiled threats towards a councilmember regarding future re-election possibilities. That’s just not very nice.

40 Replies to “Chevron Sues Fullerton Over Coyote Hills”

  1. That’s what happens when government inserts itself into private property issues. It’s Chevron’s land and they have every right to develop it as they see fit in a truly free market place.

  2. Agreed Hector. We made a promise, and we didn’t stick to it. And we had a pretty good deal laid out for us too. While I don’t approve of the bullying, we had it coming.

    1. Sorry boys, there’s no implicit promise here. Staff has no authority to makes promises and the majority of the Council has spoken.

      When Chevron can figure out a way to develop their private property without impacting the rest of us they won’t need permits.

  3. Hey Hector & Captain.
    I agree. It is a property rights issue. The right to protect the property I already have. There is a glut of house in Fullerton already. We don’t need more to drive down even farther the price of my property. Then there is the mess from this construction. The lets not forget about the cleanup of the property. Perhaps you have already forgot about the Mcoll dump site which was also created by Chevron. Think this will be any different after nearly a hundred years of being an oil field? And they still have no solution on the water issue. So I just pay more for water and subsidize Chevron? I don’t think so. So yeah, it is a property right issue alright. The right of me to protect my property from them.

  4. Chevron has the right to come before the council with whatever their project of the month is. Council has a right to reject it. Chevron has the right to sue them. Eventually, there will be a council who respects BOTH sides and looks for a compromise. NIMBY or not, it’s just a matter of time.

  5. I’m a Hector and Captain, fan. It is about the NIMBYs.
    Fullerton’s progress has been paralyzed due to the ineffective composition of our city council. We deserve better. Year after year more was asked of Chevron. Every time they improved the plan, it was never enough. It is THEIR LAND!!! Not ours or the adjacent homeowners. Period.

    1. So I don’t have the right to protect my property & maximize it? Maybe I should buy the property next your house and build a strip club next to it..

  6. That property (and thousands of other acres) actually belonged to the indigenous Mexicans that once lived here before the honkies kicked the people off the land and gave it to the fucking oil scum suckers.

    1. Ceferino, my, my, I sense a lot of anger. This is part of the problem. Comments like yours are based on prejudice not intelligence.

  7. I like this discussion. I would like to bring up a couple points, as someone who spoke at the City Council meeting against Pacific Coast Homes’ recent proposal. This is not a property rights issue. It is a zoning issue. The land is zoned for oil and gas, not residential, and it is the City’s, not Chevron’s decision to change zoning. Also, if you read the EIR (environmental impact report) included with Chevron’s proposal, you will see that the development would create pollution, traffic, and possibly health issues (related to oil seepage). Also, the proposal did not include any schools, so the new development would put a further strain on Fullerton’s already-strained school system. Also, Coyote Hills is home to a federally-threatened species (the California gnatcatcher), and contains one of the last examples of coastal sage brush in North Orange County.

  8. good discussion!! what about the gem known as the fullerton loop, voted #3 in OC (i believe). it will be another tragedy caused by big oil to our precious land. if the developement will look anything like la habra’s development, then fullerton has definitely sold out for short term benefit. It can be a win-win situation and an awsome story to tell future generations that the land was saved… Chevron has unique opportunity to do something good here

  9. I’m glad this discussion is continuing. I fear that nothing can change the minds that are made up, no matter how many facts are stated, I cannot, however, let stupid or misinformed statements go without responding.
    Jesse, the very place you live at one time caused some level of pollution and at that time didn’t have the govt. required clean-up controls that we have now. Your place of residence and the surrounding neighborhoods were once zoned for another use other than residential. You’re showing the NIMBY card. Regarding “no schools included in plan”, the school district chose to collect fees (in excess of state-mandated levels). The school district will be able to decide how best to use those funds (i.e. new schools or improving existing schools). So that argument doesn’t work. And then there’s the Calif. Gnatcatcher. Their environment will actually be improved with a focus on their natural habitat. This has been done successfully throughout Southern Calif. Also, for decades residential structures have been built over former oil land; Huntington Beach, Yorba Linda, Placentia, to name a few. There haven’t been any issues with those communities. Our strict building code has successfully addressed those conditions. What people seem to be forgetting, is that the WCH property is STILL off limits to the public. It is private property and those who are currently using it for hiking, cycling, etc., are trespassing.
    Fullerton has land within the WCH boundaries that they cannot maintain (Robert E. Ward Nature Preserve); financial resources have been exhausted. More than half of the project will be preserved as open space for public enjoyment.
    Wake up, people! I thought this was a city known for it’s education, not backwards thinking.

    1. As stated before by many, including me, the land is zoned for oil extraction and Chevron retains mineral rights. If they decide to extract again they will. Indeed, they might be doing it right now.

      ‘It’s been done before therefore it’s ok to do it now’ are ‘development will actually make things better(!) for nature’ are so hackneyed there has to be a name for these particular kinds of fallacious argument, but I’m too lazy to look it up. Just because we used to insulate with asbestos and spray DDT and give anxious pregnant moms Thalidomide doesn’t provide a basis for doing it again.

      The insatiable lust to surface develop everything when it’s already been done to such excess is at its core, pure unmitigated greed. Cloaking it in other terms, like (the debunked) how zoning restrictions deny sacred property rights, etc., is just a smokescreen. I understand why developers do it, it’s the greed. Why anyone else would help them carry that water is a mystery. At least that’s what I think when I’m feeling charitable.

      “Wake up, people! I thought this was a city known for it’s education, not backwards thinking”

      I… This stands on its own.

    2. Dogmom, the very place I live now was once an Orange Grove, not an oil field. Thanks to the developers, there are very few Orange groves left in ORANGE county. Also, I am not showing the NIMBY card because I am not a property owner. I’m a renter.

      I think it’s a little absurd to say that the environment of the California gnatcatcher will be improved by grading, developing, paving, and destroying hundreds of acres of their natural habitat.

      As for structures built over former oil fields, check out the City of Carson. They are having significant problems with soil contamination, etc. Read this:

      Regarding your statement that “more than half of the project will be reserved as open space for public enjoyment,” the proposal would cut up the 510 acres into several tracts, thus significantly disrupting the natural flora and fauna.

      Finally, I am an educator at Fullerton College and Cal State Fullerton. I have a Master’s degree in English, so education is fairly important to me. It is my career. Bring on the debate, dogmom!

  10. There are no smoke screens, in fact every measure of the WCH project has been reviewed ten times over. Sounds like you’re characterizing all developers and all development as “bad”. That’s just not true and a false accusation. Not all developers are driven by Wallstreet. I realize that these are viewpoints that will never meet and never agree. Let’s just halt any improvements, especially those paid for and completed by a developer and see how quickly this city deteriorates. Our State is broke and leaning more on our local regions. I guess you’re for higher taxes, then. You didn’t address the fact that the private property is being trespassed on for recreational purposes (no one is opposition does). Let’s just put a huge fence all around the entire WCH property, because we’ll get so much use out of it being preserved. Sorry, but I just don’t get it. I do appreciate the lively discussions. I only wish they were more fact based than emotionally charged by people who are biased against developers. Thanks for your response “nipsey”.

    1. “You didn’t address the fact that the private property is being trespassed on for recreational purposes (no one is opposition does).”

      I didn’t address it because it is not happening. I have ridden the Fullerton Loop for years, it does not traverse Chevron land which is fenced. The riding trail is immediately adjacent to the fence north of Rosecrans. Google it.

  11. …..the majority of developers that I know actually appreciate and work towards balanced development. We (yes, I’m one of them), appreciate well planned communities that provide for both nature and humans. We can co-exist, you know? Think of all of the parks that have been improved….by developers. I’m a nature lover, too, but not to the extreme detriment of denying the public enjoyment of it. Not to mention the shelters built for women and children (I’ve been involved with those, too); there’s no profit in those. But as usual, the good being done by developers is overlooked by those who are cynical. Like I said before, I know I’m peeing in the wind, but like many of the FFFF readers, I have a hard time holding back sometimes.

  12. …and I’m not saying that all development is good. I’ve seen some piss poor planning in my days (not enough parking, etc.). But the WCH project is not among them. We’ve come a long way with working through the issues that impact our communities. Most developers are not in it for the “greed”. We consider providing housing a noble profession and take pride in working directly with our local communities. I’ve been unemployed for over a year. Let’s not forget the broad jobs base that comes from the building industry. And “no” that doesn’t mean we should go forward with just “any and all” development. I have no ties to Chevron or Pacific Coast Homes. But I do recognize the 20 years of effort that has been put into a well planned, sized back (from original development agreement w/City). How can one argue over 50% use of open space available to the public vs. none?

  13. ….sorry for the novels, folks, but the with the upcoming election, I can’t sit on the sidelines anymore.

  14. “Most developers are not in it for the “greed”.”

    That’s debatable. What is not is that they are in it for profit. Some of of just don’t want them to profit at our expense.

  15. Disillusioned Ex-hippy, “Some of just don’t want them to profit at our expense.”
    No argument or challenge there. There is give and take in most everything we do. Developers and builders need to make a profit, too. But you can’t ignore that it’s not a one way street…they give an awful lot along the way, pay more than their fair share of fees which help whatever community needs exist. Don’t even get me started unless you want to be educated on the cost of building residential communities. Yes, development is a business. And like any other business, it has expenses and income to balance. But I digress….this could take on a whole other conversation. Let’s get back to WCH. Please consider the fact that ALL of the agencies with jurisdictions (protecting our various rights, Fed, State, etc.) have scrutinized the WCH plan for years. Every rock has been turned over, every view point considered, every neighborhood’s view respected, resulting in the plan that should have been approved.
    Fullerton would be a bustling city by now, if it were approved last May….and not for a short term benefit.

  16. Nipsey, I’ll definitely Google it and compare it to the site plans. Who does own that property then? Thanks for the info.

  17. Oh boy, I love a challenge. Thanks for the invite, Jesse! (Bring on the debate, dogmom! – See comment #27 at this writing.) I’ll try to address your points in order.
    “Thanks to the developers, there are very few orange groves left….” Excuse me, but thanks to the developers WE HAVE a place to live, whether you rent or own. You can always go up and live in the mountains, Jesse. There are also a lot of agriculture areas remaining in Central and Northern Calif, if you want to live near Orange groves. Unfortunately, your statement shows your bias to developers. One may think twice about any of your views, knowing that there’s a deep rooted dislike towards developers, in general. Do you believe in capitalism? Or is it just the business of development that you have disdain?
    Gnatcatcher – Out of the 280 acres of proposed open space (remember that’s over half of the site), 220 acres or 79% will remain natural, that is, as is. The project lay out was planned with the preservation of the Gnatcatcher habitat in mind. The entire site is not Coastal Sage Brush. In addition, the Gnatcatcher is monitored and habitat maintained. Do you really think that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are push-overs when it comes to endangered species? I can tell you from direct experience, they are not. This plan has been approved by the USFWS.
    Regarding structures built over former oil fields, your example of City of Carson is not an apples to apples comparison. That was a refinery! Not the same kind of oil operation, so I won’t even spend any more time on that issue.
    In response to my statement that “over half of the project will be reserved as open space”, you stated, “… the proposal would cut up the 510 acres into several tracts, thus disrupting the natural flora and fauna.” Yup, there will be several tracts. However, they were designed in conjunction with the topography to preserve natural area. Come on, Jesse, have you even seen the plan? Have you actually seen all of the contiguous open space area?
    Your final point of being “an educator”….and “education is fairly important” to you. Wow, I’m not convinced. There are so many education opportunities that will come from the Nature Preserve Interpretive Center and Robert E. Ward Nature Preserve (owned in totality by the City since 1993, but not yet used)! So, education of flora and fauna or fenced up, closed to public?
    Now my final point and this addresses Nipsey’s comments on zoning. The current zoning is NOT in conformance with the General Plan. The General Plan land use section calls for residential and open space at WCH, which is what is proposed. The zoning will eventually have to be brought in conformance with the existing General Plan. This is not new.
    Also, one last comment to Nipsey relative to the riding trails. Reviewing the maps you referenced, your trails will still be there.
    Until next time…..

  18. “Now my final point and this addresses Nipsey’s comments on zoning. The current zoning is NOT in conformance with the General Plan. The General Plan land use section calls for residential and open space at WCH, which is what is proposed. The zoning will eventually have to be brought in conformance with the existing General Plan. ”

    Chevron greased the political skids and had residential development added to the General Plan decades ago, we know that and have talked about it in the past, you’re the one who’s late to the party. General Plans are advisory, and the City routinely circumvents or ignores the GP for the sake of whatever suits the pet project du jour, so hanging one’s hat on the General Plan — well, good luck with that.

    I said nothing about trails going away, I only brought it up since you falsely claimed that trespassing was going on.

  19. “…you’re the one who’s late to the party”….can’t disagree with that one, Nipsey, I’ve only recently started to chime in. However, I am aware of the 20 years of planning this project has gone through. Remember it was originally approved for more units. It has met very stringent approvals from State and Federal agencies. Those are not easy to obtain, believe me. Every consideration for a balanced development has been met. Every time we got a new PC or Council member, it got turned inside out, all over again. I’ve been in the development business for 32 years and we’ve come a long way, baby. We’ve learned (most of us) how to balance nature with development. They can co-exist. But I’ll get off of my soapbox.
    The trespassing I was referencing is not on the “public” trails you ride. I know folks who hike and bike throughout the WCH property, which IS trespassing. The trails you ride appear to be on the perimeter.

  20. “The trespassing I was referencing is not on the “public” trails you ride”

    No, the trespassing claim came about because you minsconstrued what someone else posted, end of story.

    “I know folks who hike and bike throughout the WCH property, which IS trespassing. ”

    Nonsense, post names. With all due respect I don’t think you know much about any of this, let alone actual people who are actually trespassing there.

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