Supporters of the proposed development of Chevron’s land in West Coyote Hills appear to have gained a majority of seats on Fullerton’s City Council yesterday. Chevron has long sought zoning changes which would allow it to build homes on the last of it’s abandoned oil fields in Fullerton, but activists wishing to restore and preserve the chaparral in a natural state have stymied their efforts.
In May the five-member Council voted 3-2 against development, but Chevron is free to try again. Yesterday’s election may have improved the oil company’s chances of getting the approval they need to begin building.
Two council members were in secure seats: F. Richard Jones,who voted in favor of development,and Sharon Quirk-Silva, who voted against. Three seats were up for grabs. Of the three, two look likely to be filled by pro-development candidates. The third could go either way.
Don Bankhead, whose term had expired, was re-elected. He voted in favor of development last May.
Doug Chaffee is the likely replacement for Pam Keller who was termed out and chose not to run again. Pat McKinley is running closely behind Chaffee in the unofficial results. Chaffee voted against Chevron’s development proposal when it came before the Planning Commission in March, while McKinley has said he favors development.
Bruce Whitaker is leading the race to serve the rest of Shawn Nelson’s term. Nelson left to take a seat on the Board of Supervisors. Whitaker, also a planning commissioner, voted in favor of Chevron’s development plan in March.
The Council will probably look like this:
Don Bankhead – For West Coyote Hills Development
F. Richard Jones – For West Coyote Hills Development
Sharon Quirk-Silva – Against West Coyote Hills Development
Doug Chaffee – Against West Coyote Hills Development or Pat McKinley – For
Bruce Whitaker – For West Coyote Hills Development
Election results are available from the Orange County Registrar.
UPDATE (11/23/2010): The Orange County Registrar of Voters certified the results of the November 2nd election yesterday. McKinley overtook Chaffee, leading by 90 votes. The Orange County Register calls that “close but probably beyond the reach of a recount.” This leaves us with a newly constituted city council that is (so far as we can tell from public statements) 4:1 in favor of development in West Coyote Hills.
UPDATE (11/30/2010): Chaffee is paying for a recount. OC Register’s story: http://bit.ly/g5sNWV
UPDATE: (12/16/2010): Recount canceled. OC Register’s story