The fate of one of Fullerton’s last large tracts of open space will be decided Tuesday night when the City Council votes on a proposal by Chevron Corp. to build 760 homes on a former oil field.
Tuesday’s vote is the culmination of a decades-long fight over development of 510 acres in the Coyote Hills section of northwest Fullerton. This most recent round began last year when the previous City Council rejected the development plan and the oil giant filed a $1-million lawsuit.
In April, Chevron agreed to drop the suit if the council approved the project.
Three of the five City Council members — Don Bankhead, Pat McKinley and Bruce Whitaker — received a total of $8,900 in contributions from the oil company for their election campaigns last fall. All have said, however, that the money had nothing to do with their support for the settlement agreement in April.
Opponents of the development argue that the project will dramatically increase traffic in an already congested area and overload nearby schools. They argue that the city needs the land as open space to help compensate for its shortage of parks.
Fullerton, like much of North Orange County, is “park poor” because of overdevelopment beginning in the 1950s. Prior councils didn’t require developers to set aside enough land for public use.
The 510 acres lies northwest of Rosecrans Avenue and Euclid Street. Chevron is proposing to dedicate 283 of the land to open space uses. But Friends of Coyote Hills argue that most of the 283 acres consists of steep hills and rugged terrain and cannot be developed anyway.
Chevron’s Coyote Hills project has been an issue in the city since the late 1970s when development first was suggested. Both sides have posted signs on major streets in north Fullerton urging the council to reject or approve the proposal. Feelings on both sides have become heated in recent months, with signs from both camps reportedly being stolen.
— TRACY WOOD
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