The following is a guest post by Judith Kaluzny, a divorce lawyer and mediator in Fullerton.
Private property rights, like free speech rights, have limitations. Some Fullertonians are bleating about the alleged rights of a very prosperous multinational corporation to a zoning change to permit residential dwellings for affluent people upon a hazardous land area.
Meantime, the city is at work to remove private property rights from Larry Klees, the owner of a small downtown residential property where he provides low income housing for six people. April 19 the city council in a closed session authorized the law firm of Jones & Mayer to take whatever action is necessary to place the property at 138 West Malvern Avenue into receivership.
A recorded grant deed for former oil field property in Huntington Beach sold by Pacific Coast Homes/Chevron Land & Development Company contains a final paragraph as follows: “Grantee acknowledges that the real property has been used by former owners for oil field production operations and/or as oil storage tank farm for the storage of crude oil and petroleum products; that residual contamination is commonly found on properties that have been in such use; and that these residual substances include chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.”
Fine print on the pages of the deed seem to indicate that it also applies to other Chevron property including West Coyote Hills.
In addition, the Coyote Hills map in the EIR geology section shows two landslide zones where houses are to be built, actually the densest–attached–housing is in one of these. Also a liquifaction zone is there. The soils are the same friable soils that are across Euclid from CH, where the path is permanently closed and the hillside is eroding away. As also in La Habra, same soil structure, and severe erosion on properties there. It is also the bull’s eye of the Puente Hills Blind Thrust Fault which, if there is a moderately severe quake, is project by the USGS to be the worst economic disaster in the history of the USA. See USGS comments on the 2006 EIR.
The Klees property is not attractive in appearance. Described by one person, “I think it’s a unique property that is truly so evocative it could be used for film locations. It appears to be some type of worker or bracero housing and the property runs down to the barranca.”
And there is a complaint by a “citizen” October 12, 2010, to code enforcement but the lines for investigative notes are entirely blank. The allegations relate to interior conditions in one unit not specified. But Klees had no notice that the city wanted to take over his private property and redevelop it at his expense.
Klees said one of his cottage rental units had been severely damaged by a tenant he was evicting six months ago. The tenant attacked him; he called the police November 3, 2010. Klees believes it was this disgruntled tenant who made the latest complaint to code enforcement, now known as community preservation.
But the Klees property will give no one cancer or birth defects nor slide down a hill. But he does not get the respect for private property that it seems some people think the city owes Chevron.
Question: does the city knowing these risks on the Chevron property become liable for the harm to the future residents if the council approves this land for residential purposes?
Editor’s note: If you’re interested in writing a guest post on the proposed development of West Coyote Hills or on any other topic that would be of interest to residents in and near the hills, email me at CindyCotter@gmail.com