Chevron and Friends of Coyote Hills, a local grassroots organization, have reached a stalemate regarding the use of the oil giant’s abandoned oil fields in West Coyote Hills. Last night the city council voted 3-2 against Chevron’s plan to build houses, but city staff also announced that Chevron won’t sell the land to a third party to preserve as open space.
Chevron subsidiary Pacific Coast Homes has been seeking a zoning change since the late 70’s to build on 510 acres in north Fullerton. The rest of the Coyote Hills oil fields have already been developed.
Friends of Coyote Hills wants to find someone with enough money to restore and preserve the land as the last local remnant of a diminishing habitat unique to the western coast, coastal sage scrub. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) has mitigation funds from Measure M with which to buy open space, and has been considering Chevron’s land.
Last night’s vote on the one hand, and the announcement that Chevron won’t sell the land to OCTA on the other hand, appear to have stymied both sides – no development, no park. The land will remain an abandoned oil field, mostly fenced off from the public. Nothing has been resolved, and the eventual use of the land remains in question. Chevron is free to make another proposal. Preservationists can also make another attempt to buy and restore the land.
But last night, the developers, whose hopes had been raised by the Planning Commission’s positive recommendation on March 18, were keenly aware they’d lost the battle, if not the war, and opponents of development were jubilant.