Parks and Rec Favors Development

Fullerton’s Parks and Recreation commissioners voted 4-2 in favor of the recreational aspects of the developer’s plans for the remaining undeveloped land in West Coyote Hills at a 3-hour meeting tonight. One commissioner was absent.

About 75 people attended a meeting of the Parks and Recreation Commission which was charged with making a recommendation to the City Council regarding Pacific Coast Homes’s planned development of its land in West Coyote Hills. Pacific Coast is a subsidiary of Chevron, who once pumped oil from the land but now wishes to turn it to other uses. In exchange for permission to build houses, the developer has worked with representatives of various community interests to devise a plan that includes open space, parks, trails, viewpoints and an interpretive center. Development has been opposed by organized resistance from community members who would prefer to leave all the land undeveloped.

Tonight’s meeting began with a recap by Joan Wolff, city consultant planner, of the presentation she made at an earlier meeting on July 8, and continued with a description of the recreational aspects of the plan by Jim Pugliese, a project manager representing Pacific Coast Homes. Citizen comments and questions took an hour, with roughly an even balance between those who favored development and those who opposed it.

Then the commission members discussed a variety of issues.  Would there be sufficient parking? Should the interpretive center be built on the opposite side of Euclid? Was a lighted athletic field a good idea? What material would be used to surface the trails?

In the end the only significant point of disagreement was the endowment Chevron promised to fund maintenance of the recreational areas that would be given to the city.  The endowment would be sum of money donated to the city sufficient to pay for maintenance forever if invested at a reasonable rate of return. Shawna Adam was concerned that if the endowment failed to provide the necessary funds, the city would be on the hook for all costs.  Joe Felz, director of Parks and Recreation, confirmed that the city couldn’t afford that, though he pointed out that other city facilities (like the library and the Muckenthaler Center) are supported by endowments.

Finally all members present (Sueling Chen was absent) said they favored the plan, feeling the city was being given a real gift by Chevron since the land is their property, but Shawna Adam and Kathleen Shanfield were sufficiently concerned about the possible failure of the endowment that they voted against the recommendation anyway.

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